A surprising 38 per cent of the French don’t drink wine at all, up from 19.2 per cent in 1980.
The French are drinking less wine, very much less.
It is always a shock to the system when nations fail to live up to their stereotypes. Next thing you know, the French will be opposing long lunches, gay marriage, precision in all things and the inalienable right of all Paris waiters to be bloody rude to well-meaning tourists who blunder in saying “Bonjour” rather than “Bonjour monsieur.”
Yes, I can report that the French are putting the brakes on everything except precision because it’s too much fun tormenting those who don’t know precisely how things are done in France. How are they done? Just so. The damask tablecloth is ironed from beneath, the cheeses must not fight each other, do not smile at passersby like an idiot lest you be taken for an American.
There were demonstrations recently against French President François Hollande’s plan to legalize gay marriage. This one I could possibly explain away with the classic definition of marriage as “a friendship recognized by the police.” Perhaps the French were simply supporting the alleged sexual licentiousness of the gay population which will be tamed by marriage, although not by French marriage from what I hear.
We could discuss this over a glass of Meursault but 38 per cent of the French don’t drink wine at all, up from 19.2 per cent in 1980. Then, more than half of French adults were sipping wine nearly every day, now down to 17 per cent. So the BBC reports and they, too, are casting about for explanations for this astonishing 2011 study from the International Journal of Entrepreneurship.
The study, which I suspect is faulty, is still thoroughly French, quoting various philosophers as it shores up its thesis that there has been a generational change in wine-drinking. Older people have wine at the table as a matter of course, the middle-aged see it as an occasional indulgence and young people aren’t particularly interested. Wine is not a thing for them, a symbol of Frenchness and la vie luxe.
French people are abandoning the camaraderie of the evening meal just as they now eat a hasty lunch at their desks, allow burger bars in the Louvre mall and buy coffee at American chains on the Left Bank. They like globalization for its novelty just as North Americans are becoming sickened by it.
Denis Saverot, editor of La Revue des Vins de France magazine, heatedly told the BBC he blames the car, nondrinking Muslims, and the popularity of other drinks like beer.
But then he goes full-throttle old-school, which is why I must quote him: “It is our bourgeois, technocratic elite with their campaigns against drink-driving and alcoholism . . . In the 1960s we were drinking 160 litres each a year and weren’t taking any pills. Today we consume 80 million packets of antidepressants. Wine is the subtlest, most civilized, most noble of antidepressants.”
This man is fighting modernity itself. The last thing a seriously depressed person should be doing is drinking wine. And campaigns against alcoholism seem sensible given the cost of treating the disease and the carnage on the highways. The French are quietly, and illegally, hacking away at the elegant plane trees that line the roads, esthetically pleasing but a special hazard for the French driver when he runs off the road.
In Canada we have metal guardrails for this kind of thing. They aren’t pretty but they do the trick.
Perhaps the cult of wine, part of the French art de vivre, is attractive unless you have to live with it, which tourists don’t.
It is cheering to see, therefore, that Brits don’t change, still drinking, unlike the French, on an empty stomach and vomiting lavishly on the streets. The Italians are as casual as ever about their cultural inheritance, the landmarks of Rome deteriorating to the extent that private corporations are sponsoring repairs. Fendi is working on the Trevi Fountain and Tod’s on the Colosseum.
German cuisine is still sausage-based and beery, the Spanish dine unconscionably late and Portuguese pastries are exquisite. Americans talk loudly about money in airports and restaurants. Canadians are meek, their only aggression being the passive kind: they jog on the street rather than the sidewalk.
Why? Is it habit? Is it a declaration of nationality, of personality and terroir? Whatever it is, please don’t stop.
Source: the star.com
Source: the star.com