Original research articles

Social representation of wine among young adults


For many years in France, the daily consumption of wine has been decreasing for a more occasional consumption, particularly among the young. Their spirits’ consumption remains an «Anglo-Saxon behaviour», i.e., a weekly consumption of beer and high-alcohol drinks, that often follows with drunkenness.

To better understand the future behaviour of young generations, this innovative study proposes to look jointly at young consumers’ behaviour and social representations.

The wine social representation studys’ purpose is to point out the existence of a common way of thinking, socially elaborated and shared by a group of people. This study will also attempt to explain partly, the nature of social and affective links as well as social consumption practices.

To that end, we assume that there is a social representation of wine which varies according to a younger generations‘ region of origin (vineyard versus no vineyard areas), to their position towards wine (amateur fond of wine versus experts who are future professionals) and to their consumption practices.

After having conducted a preliminary survey for this research, we have built a questionnaire measuring wine consumption and the social representation. Voluntary students have been chosen (58 from Bordeaux, 52 from Limoges and 45 oenology students).

The first statistical results show wine consumption habits vary according to the group. People from Bordeaux (amateur / vineyard) prefer consuming wine at their parents homes. Oenology students (future experts) prefer consuming wine at home with their friends. People from Limoges (amateur / no-vineyard) don’t have specific habits.

As for the other spirits we are noticed common practices : all students in the survey prefer consuming these spirits outside (bar, restaurant) with friends. This last result confirms numerous former studies as to alcohol consumption by the young.

As for the image of wine, the results prove that there exists a common social representation. Such representation is associated for everybody with the enjoyment of food, conviviality and the passing on of knowledge and habits. Nevertheless, we have noticed specific points. The oenology students’ representation is more valued and associated with festivities. Students from Limousin, most associate wine with negative effects (alcoholism, accidents). Finally, for students from the Bordeaux region, wine representation is strongly assimilated to the image of their native region and looks like an identity.

In conclusion, we are bringing out a paradox. Despite the fact that young generations are increasingly disregarding wine, it still has had in recent years, a highly valued image among the French population and generated a feeling of cultural belonging.

It finally seems that wine suffers from its nearly sacred image. The young seem not to allow themselves to consume this product, whose image is associated with coded practices that obviously, are different from those of other spirits.


Céline Simonnet-Toussaint


Affiliation : Psychologue clinicienne chargée de recherche chez Laffort-OEnologie, doctorante à l’Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, département de psychologie, EA-487, 3 ter place de la Victoire, 33076 Bordeaux cedex, France

André Lecigne

Affiliation : Maître de conférence, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, département de psychologie, 3 ter place de la Victoire, 33076 Bordeaux cedex, France

Pascal-Henri Keller

Affiliation : Maître de conférence habilité, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, département de psychologie, 3 ter place de la Victoire, 33076 Bordeaux cedex, France


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