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French try improving entrepreneurship by drinking less wine

Posting in Food

Stuck on the shelf? France's internet generation is turning away from wine.

I've met many French entrepreneurs over the years who complain about how difficult entrepreneurship is in the old country where policies and culture suppress it.

Now in an "up yours" to the old ways, young French people, and by implication entrepreneurs, are forsaking one of the country's best known customs: drinking wine.

Wine consumption in France has dropped precipitously in recent decades, and according to a study in The International Journal of Entrepreneurship, the internet generation is particularly averse.

"Members of the third generation - the internet generation - do not even start taking an interest in wine until their mid-to-late 20s," writes the BBC in a report of the study. "For them, wine is a product like any other, and they need persuading that it is worth their money."

The old guard isn't taking this revolutionary development sitting down.

"They fear that time-honored French values -- conviviality, tradition and appreciation of the good things in life -- are on the way out," the story notes. "Taking their place is a utilitarian, 'hygieno-moralistic' new order."

Food writer Perico Legasse worries that "individualized, accelerated" meals are replacing the "convivial gathering around a table." He warns that the new way is "a purely technical form of nourishment, whose aim is to make sure we fuel up as effectively and as quickly as possible."

French writer Theodore Zeldin bemoans that "companionship has been replaced by networking."

And Denis Saverot, editor of wine publication La Revue des Vins de France, points out that sales of chemical antidepressant pills are rising as wine falls. "The village bar has gone, replaced by a pharmacy," he says.

Technical nourishment! Hygieno-moralistic new order! Antidepressants! It doesn't have quite the same ring as Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. But look out. Change is stirring in France.

Photo from Alpha via Wikimedia.

— By on March 26, 2013, 10:40 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure