Growing numbers of young people and women are drinking the occasional glass of wine in France, according to a national survey that also found the first drop in tee-totallers for 20 years.

French wine consumption has near enough halved overall in the last 40 years, prompting inquests into national identity and socio-economic headaches for producers.

But, the latest survey from government affiliated body FranceAgriMer suggests more French people are drinking wine in 2015 than five years ago – at least occasionally.

Its survey of 4,000 people deemed representative of France’s demographics shows a six percentage point rise in occasional wine drinkers. This group was 51% of respondents.

Young French people return to wine

Young drinkers and women are now more likely to have ‘one or two glasses a week’, the survey shows.

Caroline Blot, of FranceAgriMer, told, ‘Our role is to record what is happening not to comment on it, but what is clear is that for a long time women and young people were not drinking at all, and they are now having an occasional glass.

‘It is this light drinking that has increased, but overall regular drinking in the country continues to drop.’

Fifty percent of women drink a glass or two of wine each week, a rise from 42% at the last study, while 40% of 15-24 year olds are occasional consumers, rising to 57% of 25-34 year olds.

Many of those drinking wine every day are aged over 65 and are now at 16%, down from 17% in 2010. Non-drinkers account for 33% of the population, down from 38% in 2010 and the first drop since 1995.

Less wine with food

Less wine is being drunk with meals – now only 48% say their wine is drunk with food, a drop from 64% in 2010.

Men surveyed were drinking wine twice as frequently as women and more likely to drink it without food.