Stock up on French expressions about wine

French people are stocking up on wine. Every supermarket and hypermarket worth its salt holds a ‘Foire aux Vins’ in the autumn. Large areas, in key positions in the stores, are devoted to a variety of wines at unbeatable prices. As the wines are displayed by colour and by region, it’s easy to head for the wines you prefer or to explore wines from a less familiar region. It’s the perfect time to stock up on wines for the end of year holiday season and also to lay down a few good bottles of wines that will keep, ‘les vins de garde’, for special occasions.

Unsurprisingly, the wines are all French. with the exception of a small selection of Spanish and Italian wines and occasionally a few bottles from more distant vineyards. Rosé wines remain popular, continuing a recent trend. Sales of champagne and other sparkling wines are on the increase. Champagne in no longer a drink reserved for special occasions.

To promote these ‘foires’, each store issues a catalogue with a description and an appreciation rating for each wine. It’s then up to wine lovers to make their choice. For some wines there is only a limited number of bottles so buyers need to head for the stores early to get the best deals.

It’s also the season for ‘Les Salons des Vins’ as towns all over France host wine events. If you visit a ‘Salon des Vins’, you will be given a glass when you pay your entrance fee. You can then taste, ‘déguster’, what’s on offer at the various stalls. Experienced visitors attend with their trolley or cart to carry away the boxes of wine that they purchase. It’s again a chance to discover new wines and to buy them at reduced prices.


If you are not able to visit a French hypermarket or a ‘Salon des Vins’, you can at least stock up on some French expressions and fun quotations about wine. Try slipping one of these frequently used expressions into a conversation with French friends.

  • Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire. You’ve made your bed and you must lie in it.
  • Être entre deux vins. To be tipsy.
  • Avoir le vin triste. To get maudlin when one drinks.
  • Avoir le vin gai. To get merry when one drinks.
  • Mettre de l’eau dans son vin. To make concessions.

Cuver son vin. To sleep it off. There are many amusing quotations concerning wine. Enjoy this sample.

  • J’ai compris que j’avais accepté de ne pas être immortel quand j’ai commencé à boire mes vieux bordeaux. (Philippe Bouvard)
  • Il faut s’efforcer d’être jeune comme un Beaujolais et de vieillir comme un Bourgogne. (Robert Sabatier)
  • Un cassoulet sans vin rouge, c’est aussi consternant et incongru qu’un curé sans latin. (Pierre Desproges)
  • À quoi reconnaît-on un bon restaurant ? Les verres à vin y sont plus grands que les verres à eau. (Frédéric Beigbeder)
  • Le vin entre et la raison sort. French proverb

‘Bonne dégustation !’, and remember that wine is ‘à boire avec modération’.

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Thank you!

Pam Bourgeois


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