Wine and Culture in France
I was born and raised in France. A country with has a (very) strong wine culture. However, it might surprise some of you to hear that I never drink wine or any type of alcohol in fact. Not even in social occasions. There are several reasons to that but I won’t mention them here.
Being french means knowing a lot more about wine than the average people around the world. It is part of who we are. I remember my grandfather teaching me how to open a bottle of wine properly. He did it so elegantly. It was a pleasure just to see him pop open the bottle of wine. It was the epitome of celebration, even if we were only having a simple family dinner.
Another important aspect was pouring the wine in a way that is not only elegant but also while avoiding the infamous drips. It is like an art. And keep in mind that we got taught all this at a very young age, around 7 or 8 years old. When I tell you it’s part of the local culture…
Apart from this, you learn early on when to drink white wine or red wine. You learn that mixing both can make you sick, you learn the differences between Bordeaux and Bourgogne, the difference between a good wine and a bad wine and many other things. And remember that I don’t even drink.
These are the positive aspects. Getting a general knowledge of what is wine is always good and helps with your conversation skills. And you can be sure that when you say you are french a lot of people will ask you some random “cliché” questions. So you need to be ready for that.
And you will encounter a lot of people who want to impress you with their knowledge about wine. That can be very annoying. Wine snobbism too. Bad taste at its finest.
The key is to act like it’s natural. It takes a lot of skills and rehearsal to make it look like it’s easy and part of you. But once you can do that, you will be sure to impress people. A bit like playing the piano actually.
Let me go back to wine snobbism because that one really bothers me. When I see somebody endlessly swirling wine or tasting it for too long, or correcting the sommelier…I just roll my eyes. It just brings unnecessary attention to you and it is a bit arrogant to think or let other think for that matter, that you know more about wine than the experts. Can’t you just sit down and enjoy what is available?
Our wine culture is part of the french culture. And french culture, despite what many people think, is not about bragging. It is about being a man (or a woman) well-rounded, elegant, well-dressed, able to talk about any subject, courteous, discreet and many other qualities. That is what the ideal gentleman looks like in our country.
Unfortunately, many people just drink wine and get drunk. And all these implicit rules do not seem to bother them. That’s the downside of this wine culture. Shameless behavior, getting drunk, arguing, fighting, drunk driving and sometimes car accidents induced by alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a plague and I’ve seen many people destroyed by it. Including some members of my own family. So please remember to drink responsibly at all times.
Find the right balance between pleasure and binge drinking. If you love something, refrain yourself from abusing it. There is no pleasure after a certain point. Unless you like vomiting everywhere of course. But in France, we feel it’s more a german thing to do it. Especially during Oktoberfest when everybody drinks huge jugs of beer and go throw up after that in the public bathrooms. Such a lack of “Savoir-Vivre”…