Bonsoir mes amis!
At Pour L’Amour, we’re bringing French wine culture to Annandale, Minnesota. Wine is extremely important to the French. That’s why we picked Paris, the City of Lights, as the theme for our wine bar. Here’s everything you wanted to know about French wine culture.
French Wine Culture
The Germans have beer, the Brits have tea, and the French have wine. The average French person drinks more than 11 gallons of wine every year, more than three times the amount the average American imbibes. France produces more than a billion gallons of wine every year, second only to Italy, another wine-loving country.
The French love of wine is so engrained that it’s a part of their language. The French language includes dozens of wine-related words. Jaja and rouquin are alternative terms for red wine, for example. Bibine, vinasse, and piquette are slang for poor-quality wines.
French wine growers represent a large proportion of the French agricultural population, which makes their influence on French culture significant. These growers operate vineyards in ten regions, including Alsace, Bordeaux, Champagne, and the Loire Valley. The origin of French wine is extremely important. So important, in fact, that wine origins are protected by law, which is why a bit of bubbly from the US will never be called champagne. Why all the fuss? Climate and soil affect the quality and taste of the grapes used to make wine. These qualities in a grape are known as terroir, the French word for soil.
Each variety of wine has its own flavor profile. This profile influences the type of foods French people enjoy with wine. The French call food and wine pairings l’accord mets et vins: wine and meal pairings. Red wines tend to pair well with red meat, while white wines complement chicken or fish. When you ask your Pour L’Amour server for a wine recommendation, chances are they will follow this guidance.
Reading a French Wine Label
As we mentioned before, wine production in France is highly regulated to protect the integrity of the product. When you purchase a wine from France, look for the AOC label. AOC stands for Appellation d’Origine Controlee. This certifies the wine was produced under France’s strict regulations and passed an official taste test. You may also see AOP on labels. This is a newer label that indicates the wine passed an even stricter review. AOC and AOP-certified wines may have green metal cork wrappers. Vin de table, or simple, cheap wines, may have blue wrappers. Wines of any quality may have red wrappers.
Drink Wine Like the French Do
If you want the true Parisian wine experience, follow French etiquette for enjoying a bottle of wine. French waiters will always pour a tasting portion of the wine for whomever ordered it. If that’s you, accept the offer, then take in the wine’s smell and taste. Give the waiter an appreciative nod if the wine’s acceptable (it usually is!).
Once you’ve accepted the bottle, you’ll want to make a toast. A votre sante or A ta sante are French for To Your Health. To mix things up, you could try Sante, or Health. Then, trinquer! Clink your glasses together. Don’t forget to make eye contact with everyone at the table as you clink.
There’s much more to French wine culture than what we’ve covered here. We’ll be exploring more over the next few months. In the meantime, stop into Pour L’Amour to experience a bit of wine culture for yourself without the transatlantic flight. We’re open Wednesday through Saturday 11 am to 9 pm and Sunday 10 am to 2 pm.