FRENCH-FLAGThe news from the International Organization of Wine and Vine that the U.S. surpassed France in total wine consumption in 2013 to become “the biggest internal market in the world… in terms of volume” is certainly earth-rattling enough. Even more so? The likelihood that far more Americans than French drink wine, period.

Yes, the statistics routinely show the reverse by citing average consumption rates per citizen. But! Let’s remember that far fewer French drink wine at all. A survey in the 1990s showed that more than half of French adults never drank wine; of those that did, fewer than one-third drank it every day. The numbers have been declining since.

Yet the OIV statistics conclude that the French in total consumed 28 million-plus hectoliters of wine in 2013. This and the slumping individual numbers suggest that those French who do drink wine regularly drink an unhealthy lot of it. Perhaps because of this decidedly immoderate consumption, France’s rate of alcoholism and its proportion of deaths from liver diseases such as cirrhosis have generally run double those of the U.S.

And about that “French paradox,” the idea that moderate red wine consumption keeps them healthy and trim, guess what the number-one killer is in France? Heart disease. The brie will get you in the end, no matter the wine with it.
· The Wine Market: Developments and Trends [OIV]