By: The Drink Wine and Giggle Gals
“To have a second language is to have a second soul.” Charlemagne
For some time, it has been the collective goal of the Drink Wine and Giggle Gals to be able to order wine in the native tongues of the top wine-producing countries in the world. In our book Drink Wine and Giggle we have an activity called Learn the Lingo in which we explore a new language and surround ourselves with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of its home culture.
Wine is the wellspring of Learn the Lingo because nothing captures the raw material of language—the land, climate, produce and people—quite like wine. And through wine, the Drink Wine and Giggle Gals have had fleeting moments of feeling bilingual.
In this post we’d like to share a few choice phrases paired with reviews of some of our favourite wines from France.
Let the Drink Wine and Giggle language course begin!
Learn the Wine Lingo of France
Year after year France and Italy vie for top spot in total wine production. The latest figures the Drink Wine and Giggle Gals have from a highly credible Google site that we can’t recall puts France in top spot. So we must learn the French wine lingo first.
Terroir (from terre or ‘land’) is the French word loaned to English that is most germane to wine—it is the sense of place expressed in a wine that gives it a unique character. When sampling wine, the Drink Wine and Giggle Gals always pause to consider its terroir. We have also tried to understand our own terroirs and the reasons for our relative sweetness or acidity.
The French were the first to take terroir and apply it to a system—the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC)—that assumes the land defines the grape. The Drink Wine and Giggle Gals distrust systems, presuming they are an invitation to subterfuge, another word of French origin meaning to flee from classification as moyenne or ‘average’. In wine and in life, everyone aspires to be premier cru—‘the first growth’ that is the best of the best of French wine.
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was a French gastronome of premier cru and is the source of our first French phrase that the Drink Wine and Giggle Gals use whenever we are presented with a plate of grapes.
Fr. Merci, mais je n’ai pas l’habitude de prendre mon vin sous forme de pilule. (Thank you, but I am not in the habit of taking my wine in pill form.)
And to order French wine we say…
Fr. Les Boire de Vin et Rire Dames voudraient une bouteille de Fat Bastard s’il vous plait. Premier cru Fat Bastard, si vous l’avez.
(The Drink Wine and Giggle Gals would like a bottle of Fat Bastard please. Premier cru Fat Bastard, if you have it.)
Fat Bastard Shiraz 2008, France 563122 13% XD 750ml $14.95
Drink Wine and Giggle Gal Score: 87/100
The Drink Wine and Giggle Gals could not believe Fat Bastard is a French wine, thinking mistakenly that it was an American creation inspired by Skinny Bitch. In a sense Fat Bastard is an American creation because America is responsible for the wine’s success. Business Week called Fat Bastard a marketing phenomenon, a deliberately accessible French wine that is more Monty Python than Côtes du Rhône. The Drink Wine and Giggle Gals just call it phat…
La Chablisienne Vieilles Vignes, Les Vénérables Chardonnay 2008, France 942243 12.5% XD 750ml $24.95
Drink Wine and Giggle Gal Score: 89/100
The Drink Wine and Giggle Gals love to put on some Edith Piaf, march around the room and drink La Chablissienne. Soon les chagrins, les plaisirs, we have no need of them. The Drink Wine and Giggle Gals have never regretted buying this friendly French chardonnay.
In our next guest post, the Drink Wine and Giggle Gals will travel linguistically to Italy in search of la bella figura del vino.