Too much booze is a problem we’re often warned about  – but not on an industrial scale.

France has found itself with a surplus of wine thanks to a drop in domestic consumption and plans to spend millions of euros converting it into alcohol for use by the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

Winemakers in France, which is the world’s second-largest wine producer after Italy, say overproduction and a drop in consumption have left them with full cellars – and nowhere to store this year’s harvest.

The Ministry of Agriculture said it would convert some of the wine into industrial alcohol at a cost of €160m. The last time the government stepped in such a way was in 2020 because of the pandemic lockdowns which had forced restaurants and bars to shut.

Figures show red wine sales dropped 15% in French supermarkets last year, while rosé and white dropped by 3% to 4%. It is part of a broader trend that has seen people drinking less and less since the 1950s.


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