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lundi, 07 janvier 2013

LE BU, LE LU, LE VU

THE DECREASE OF WINE CONSUMPTION IN WINE PRODUCING COUNTRIES:

PROGRESS OF CIVILISATION OR CULTURAL DECLINE?


Claude Gilois

Wine consumption has markedly decreased in wine producing countries over the last fifty years. In France it has gone done by more than half, falling from 165 litres per capita in 1965 to 57 litres in 2010; Likewise in Italy and Spain. Wine is increasingly becoming a product of festive consumption rather than a food accompaniment as it was originally at a time when the quality of wine available had not reached such heights as today. Consumption of wine is fast disappearing from the table while there is arguably more medical evidence that a regular and moderate consumption is beneficial for health.

 

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In 1980, wine was the preferred beverage with meals in wine producing countries and formed an intimate part of a meal, it now takes third place. There is a close link between the disappearance of wine on the table and the disappearance of home cooked food, and at the same time, the conviviality what went with it, disappeared. Cooked meals, whether at home or in restaurants, have been replaced by prepared foods from supermarkets, and in restaurants by prepared meals purchased from specialist stores, such as Metro, and reheated by staff who have no particular knowledge about food. In France we have seen the complete disappearance of restaurants based on regional products cooked by chefs. Italy with its family-owned trattorias has fared better. Today most people eat with the same enthusiasm and the same speed as they do when refuelling their cars.  It is not surprising that wine has become superfluous. Cooking based on products and on taste has been supplanted by show business, spectacular and gadget foods from the agro-chemical industry.  Today most people eat and drink brands and when they want to experience the highest possible level of manipulated food, they fight to get a place in restaurants that have achieved stardom with the concept of molecular cooking, sometimes with spectacular results as at the Fat Duck a few months ago. Cooking based on terroir driven products concerns a minority of people, so does wine based on this concept. While the decrease in regular wine consumption is obvious, so is the rise in binge drinking, a phenomenon never seen before. It is not the wine that kills thousands of young people on the road but highly engineered drinks by the agro-chemical industry. If we add to this the dramatic increase in obesity, diabetes, cancer and related diseases due to the change of food preparation and consumption, the balance sheet of public health policies in wine producing countries (and elsewhere) is far from being positive.  It is worth noting that the decrease of wine consumption has been achieved by a huge increase in sugar-based drinks of all kinds, rather than sugar, it is a derivative of sugar, fructose (the natural product is glucose) not present in nature that is being used. Fructose, derived chemically from corn, constitutes the ‘bread and butter’ of all sweet drinks and indeed of most foods prepared by the agro-chemical industry. The snag with fructose is that it creates a peak of Insulin after consumption that drops dramatically thereby inducing artificially a sense of hunger while digestion is still taking place.  All benefits for the agro-chemical industry in the end.  

 

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