Food by VICE

Cool It on the Wine, Public Health Officials Urge French People

“Quoi, just two glasses?” wrote the news service France 24.

by Bettina Makalintal
Mar 28 2019, 8:01pm

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

The American fantasy of France is a parade of endless cheese and wine—where everyone knocks back glasses of pinot in the park next to the Eiffel Tower (or at least stares dreamily at it from afar), while more bottles—and plates of cheese—await. In reality, Parisians probably aren’t staring at the wrought-iron tourist trap all the time, but they are imbibing: according to a study from last May, 36 percent of men and 15 percent of women under 35 drank ten or more drinks per week—which adds up to millions of poubelles of empty wine bottles of bottles.

The French government has finally decided to be a buzzkill, and to try to get French people to cut back their wine habits. Earlier this week, Public Health France and the National Institute of Cancer announced a national campaign to get people to drink just two glasses per day—and not every day, France 24 reported. That decision came after a study found that almost a quarter of people were drinking more than the established recommendation of two glasses per day for women and three for men.

The French are, obviously, attached to their wine: It makes up 58 percent of France’s overall booze drinking, giving France the title of the second-most wine-drunk country in the world. (It’s surprisingly still lagging behind the United States in overall wine consumption.) That might sound like a lot, but according to some sources, the French are actually drinking less wine than they used to. As one Parisian woman—who described her adolescence as “literally swimming in wine”—told France 24, “A nice meal just can’t be enjoyed without a good wine.” And as the news service wrote in its headline, “Quoi, just two glasses?”

While the current recommendation might be two glasses max per day, President Emmanuel Macron spurred criticism for just that when he mentioned last year that he drank a glass of wine for lunch and another glass for dinner. That’s because of France’s tendency, according to some health officials, to see wine as different from other forms of alcohol. At the time of the controversy, a group of doctors wrote, “What counts in terms of toxicity is the amount of alcohol drunk. Seen from the liver, wine is indeed alcohol.”

And just two months ago, the French minister of agriculture Didier Guillaume ended up in hot water when he claimed that binge-drinking was a problem, sure—but that wine just wasn’t a binge-drinking drink. “It's a real problem but I've never seen, to my knowledge—unfortunately perhaps—a youngster leaving a nightclub drunk because they drank Cotes-du-Rhone,” Guillaume said.

It seems Guillaume just hasn’t seen the effects of a good old bottle of Two Buck Chuck.

Binge Drinking
alcohol consumption
french wine