The French drink about 53 bottles of wine per person per year (i.e., about one glass of wine per day as of 2019. In reality, French wine consumption is declining over time. Before you change your wine habits, let’s find out more about French wine drinking customs and how they compare to other countries.
France is known for its exceptional wines, so it’s natural to wonder exactly how much wine the French drink per day. To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at the data.
1) Daily French wine consumption is falling
In 1980, about 40% of French people were regular wine drinkers, but that figure has fallen below 20% by 2015, according to an IEEE article. It is not just wine either. Overall, alcohol consumption in French appears to be falling over time.
Yet, there is an important distinction here. Occasional wine consumption has steadily grown over the past few decades. In 2015, 40% of French people occasionally drank wine, which has risen steadily since 1980.
Percentage information only tells part of the store. For example, according to Statista data, people in France consumed 54 liters of wine per person per year in 2007 (i.e., equivalent to about 72 750 mL bottles). By 2019, wine consumption fell to 40 liters or the equivalent of 53 bottles of 750 mL bottles). Based on this data, I’d be willing to bet that many people drink about one bottle of wine per week.
2) How does French wine consumption compare to the US?
Wine consumption in the United States is moving in a different direction. In 2007, per capita, wine consumption in the US was 2.47 gallons (9.3 liters or 12 bottles at 750 mL each). By 2018, per capita, wine consumption in the U had reached 2.95 gallons (i.e., 11.1 liters or 14 wine bottles), according to the Wine Institute. However, the increasing wine consumption trend still holds up over more extended periods. For example, in 2000-2001, per capita wine consumption in the US was 2.01 gallons (i.e., 7.6 liters or 10 wine bottles).
Let’s rephrase US wine consumption in terms of 750 ml wine bottles because that is the most common wine amount
- 2018: 14 bottles of wine per US resident per year
- 2007: 12 bottles of wine per US resident per year
- 2000: 10 bottles of wine per US resident per year
Assuming a steady wine consumption throughout, it looks like the average American is drinking 1-2 bottles of wine per month while the French may be consuming around four bottles of wine per month. If the wine consumption trend we’ve observed continues, American wine drinkers may drink more than their European friends.
3) How much wine can you safely drink per week?
Many research studies have explored the potential health advantages of drinking wine. We’re not going to cover those today. Instead, we’re going to answer a more fundamental question: how much wine should you drink? First, let’s see what the May Clinic has to say about the topic.
The Mayo Clinic provides the following general guidelines in their article, Mayo Clinic Q and A: Is daily drinking problem drinking?:
Wine glasses vary in size, so a word on definitions is helpful. The guideline above defines a “drink” as five fluid ounces. By this measurement, there are 25 fluid ounces in a 750 ml bottle of wine. That means drinking an entire bottle of wine yourself in a single day is not recommended. If you find yourself with an unfinished bottle of wine, you might wonder: does wine go bad? Yes, wine does go bad after it has been opened for a few days. However, there are three options to deal with the situation.
There is one more tip to keep in mind. If drinking becomes a daily activity, you may face increased health risks. As a general rule, I tend to limit my wine consumption to weekends, and you may want to do the same.
How does wine fit into French life?
Many articles and books have been published exploring the French diet, like French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano. This is an area that I’ve only explored a little bit. There are a few key reasons why the traditional French approach to food is worth learning from, such as the following:
1) Impact of the French drinking age on drinking
In contrast to the rigidly enforced drinking age in the United States (usually 21) and Canada (usually 19), the French have a different perspective. The French drinking age is 18 years old or 16 years old if the person is in the presence of adults. In a sense, the French drinking age is like the “PG” movie rating: parental guidance is encouraged. As a result, more French people can drink alcohol with their parents while still living at home. That means there is a better chance of learning moderation with alcohol. In contrast, North America’s higher drinking age means that drinking excessively is seen by some as a drinking
2) Vacation culture lowers stress levels
This is a personal theory but hear me out. The French have approximately thirty days of paid vacation per year. Assuming a person used their vacation days effectively, they would be less likely to high-stress levels. As a result, there is less pressure to cope with stress through binge drinking. In contrast, there is no guaranteed vacation in the United States, and many Americans do not fully use their vacation time.
There is some evidence for this theory as a 2017 survey of more than 30,000 workers found that 51% of French people “do not experience stress at work.” However, there is a dark side to France: more than 20% of French people are in a state of “hyper stress.”
Obesity in France Is A Growing Problem
As the above point highlights, France is no utopia, and it is misleading to present it. OECD data found that roughly 10% of people in France are obese while 40% of people are overweight (a measure that includes obesity). While France has lower obesity rates than Canada, the United States, and other countries, French obesity is growing over time.
How To Determine How Much Wine You Should Drink: Quality Over Quantity
Looking at statistics about how much wine per day people drink in France and other countries is interesting. But, ultimately, it is more critical to make wine-drinking choices based on your particular situation. For example, you might find that you are more sensitive to higher alcohol levels typically found in red wines. In that situation, you might choose to drink lighter white whites.
My advice? Instead of looking for ways to maximize the amount of wine you drink, aim for moderation and quality. I like to spend some time browsing wine selections online before making a choice, looking at reviews, and gradually enjoying the wine. By taking a slow approach to wine, I enjoy the experience more. So much of modern life is hectic! Let’s take our time and enjoy each sip and glass of wine.