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AP: France reports sharp drop in wine, champagne sales

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France reports sharp drop in wine, champagne sales - by Scott Sayare

As wallets grew thinner around the world, fans of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne cut back heavily on their purchases of French wine in 2008, according to French government statistics released Tuesday. French households drank almost 10 percent less wine last year than in 2007, and exports by French vintners sank 15 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value in the first quarter of 2009, the agriculture ministry reported. "It's a phenomenon of the current economic situation, so we need to be prudent and not sound the alarm," said Xavier de Volontat, who heads an association of French vintners. "We'll have to be prudent vis-a-vis our members in the months to come. It's true that they're being patient, but they have to be able to get by economically." France's chateaux and vineyards have voiced concerns for their future after seeing orders plunge since the end of 2008.

In 1960, the average French adult drank almost 175 liters of wine per year — more than four times as much as the average for an entire household in 2008. And wine has been harder hit in recent years than beer or spirits — the French drink only half as much total alcohol today as 50 years ago.

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