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Young French view wine as ‘expensive and old fashioned’

French students and young people are continuing to turn away from wine, according to a study released last week by American academic Dr Liz Thatch.

The study contrasted young French people with the same 21-30 age group of drinkers (known as ‘millennials’) in America, who are increasing their wine consumption and see wine as sophisticated and modern.

The French group found wine expensive, confusing, old fashioned, and had strong anti-alcohol feelings. ’I don’t know which one to pick when I go in a store,’ said one student. ‘There are so many names and regions.’

The group has moved away from wine to drink beer and spirits, or bottled water, carbonated drinks and juices. Over half the respondents admitted that they don’t like the taste of wine.

America’s millennials – of which there are an estimated 100m – are seen as adventurous in their attitude to wine, and viewed by marketers as a key reason for the recent rise in American fine wine drinking.

When asked for ideas to combat the problem, almost all French millennials suggested putting smaller wine bottles in restaurants, nightclubs and bars.

The study, initiated by Thatch, who is on sabbatical in France from her role as professor of Management and Wine Business at Sonoma State University in California, was based on in-depth interviews with about 20 French students.

The research is cross-referenced with a study on wine consumption habits, carried out in 2005 by Viniflhor (the Office National Interprofessionnel des Fruits, de Legumes, des Vins et de l’Horticulture), France’s regulatory body for wine. Thatch worked with Dr Francois d’Hauteville, professor of marketing at Montpellier’s agricultural university, Supagro.

D’Hauteville told decanter.com, ‘Certainly the French youth are drinking less than their parents, but overall they still consume more wine than their American counterparts.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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