Category Archives: Life in France

An Exploration of French Wines, Episode 158

An Exploration of French Wines, Episode 158


An Exploration of French Wines, Dave Walsh and his family

Introduction

Let me tell you a secret, folks. When you come to France and you go buy some wine, you are going to be surprised! Let’s say you step into a supermarket in Paris on your way back to your hotel one night. You will not find a section for Merlot and a section for Pinot Noir. Nope, what you will see is words like Corbière and Bordeaux and Loire. But what’s in those wines? If you love Cabernet and hate Merlot, how do know which one to avoid in France?

In comes today’s guest: French wine scholar Dave Walsh. “French Wine Scholar” is a certification that he took and it’s pretty clear he is passionate and knowledgeable about the subject. Dave is better than a sommelier because he’s not trying to sell you anything. He is simply trying to help you make sense of it all.

We chat about things like what’s a “terroir”? What does history have to do with wine-making? What are the basics you need to understand? How do you know what wine to pick to match your taste?  And, of course, we chat about the varieties of wines each French region uses.

Also note that below the fold, you will find a table that shows grape varieties used in various French wine regions. Make this your own cheat sheet that shows what French wines you’ll enjoy best.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 If you like this episode, you should also check out: Wine Touring in Beaune, Burgundy, the Wine Museum in Paris, French Wine Regions and Loire Valley Wines

What You Will Learn About in this Episode

 

  • 2’30 Guiguettes in Paris this summer.
  • 6′ New cultural center at Boulogne Billancourt
  • 7’30 Wine Scholar Program, why is France such a unique wine country?
  • 11’30 The Wine Scholar Program explains the history of French wines.
  • 14’35 French wine, much like the rest of France, are full of exceptions.
  • 15’30 Wine Folly
  • 16’30 The Champagne Region: labels should say “méthode traditionelle” instead of “méthode champenoise”
  • 19′ The color of the wine comes from leaving the juice in contact with the skin for more or less time.
  • 21′ The sweetness of champagne goes from “brut” (dry) all the way to “doux” (sweet).
  • 22’30 The acidity of the wine balances the sugar. A wine with more acid can have more sugar in it, but you don’t taste it, it won’t taste sugary at all.
  • 24′ Burgundy: high priced wines, renowned wineries. Aligoté.
  • 26′ What the word “terroir” means in French. It’s the growing environment which includes the type of soil, rocky or not, windy or not, dry, wet, etc.
  • 31′ In Burgundy they don’t blend wines like they do in the rest of France.
  • 33′ Movie “Ce qui nous lie
  • 33’30 Bordeaux wines: the history of Bordeaux wines has been tumultuous because Chinese buyers love wines from this region.
  • 36′ Wine blending, why they do it.
  • 38′ South-West wines such as Fronton that most folks don’t know about.
  • 39’30 Annie hates non blended Negrette wines, Elyse doesn’t mind them, but she also thinks Montmartre wine is OK.
  • 41′ Cahors wines are mostly Malbec, Madiran is also a popular grape in the South-West. Corbières wines are also lovely.
  • 42’30 Loire Valley wines.
  • 45’30 Rhone Valley wines; Côtes du Rhône wines are a great value.
  • 48’10 Languedoc-Roussillon makes the most wine by volume.
  • 48’30 The relationship between climate and wine characteristics: in areas that get a lot of sun, grapes tend to thicken their skin when the sun hits them. If the skin is thicker, you will get more color, more tanins, more of certain aromatics. Areas that get less sun have wines with less vibrant colors, and the wine is more delicate. That’s why warmer regions produce beefier, heavier wines.
  • 50′ With its long history with wine-making, France has had the time to stipulate which grapes are grown in specific areas. There were also political considerations. Burgundy was not part of France for a long time and when the French King (Charles the Bald) finally took over, he decreed that they were not to have any Gamay and use Pinot Noir instead.
  • 51’40 The rules pertaining to which grapes are grown in which region are old, but they are also ever-changing. Changes will need to be made to take climate change into account.
  • 52’15 Wines from the Alsace region. This area has a unique history and they also produce a wide variety of (mostly) white wines. 80% of Alsace  wines are not blended.
  • 53’15 Languedoc-Roussillon is a massive wine-growing region that makes 5% of wine production world-wide and 1/3 of France’s production.
  • 54’56 A lot of organic wine is produced in the Languedoc-Roussillon because the wind makes it so they don’t have to spray so much.
  • 55’31 When is it OK to stop by a vineyard and when is it not? Don’t do it in Burgundy, it will only work half of the time in the Bordeaux are, but you can totally stop by unannounced in the Languedoc-Roussillon area.
  • 56’30 Tastings in Napa vs. in France. Depending on the time of year, you may stop in at a very busy time of year. Check the websites. But in the Languedoc-Roussillon, they are casual about visitors.
  • 58’15 Beaume-de-Venise is an example of how wine regions don’t always overlap 100% with geographical regions.
  • 60′ French people do drink a lot of rosé as soon as the weather warms up. We drink more rosé than whites. Not many wines.
  • 61′ Rosé Piscine is very popular in the summer, so are rosé wines mixed with a little grapefruit juice.
  • 65′ Do French people think of wine as a food? Yes, the wine is part of the meal, it’s almost like one block that goes together.
  • 68′ I don’t know if the average Americans drink more than French overall because we don’t binge.
  • 70′ The health message people shouldn’t drink alcohol every day but rather take days off is starting to percolate through to French people. French people are also moving towards higher quality wines.
  • 86′ Feedback from Nancy Caulkins about the Canal Saint-Martin.

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Conclusion

French wines are not rocket science, but they are certainly different from what people are used to in most of the world. I’ve heard people say that soon enough French wine makers will all list varietals on their labels. Really? I’m not seeing that very much. I’ve also heard that American wine makers are trying to brand more by region. Yes, I do think that’s happening actually! I cannot predict the future, but I can tell you that if you remember some of the things Dave shared on today’s episode, the wine section at the French grocery store will now make a lot more sense than it did before!

Continue reading An Exploration of French Wines, Episode 158

Paris Packing List, Episode 137

Paris Packing List

Fancy older woman wering a hat and jewelry
You may run into this person in Paris, but she’s the exception, not the rule.

Some people fret about what’s acceptable to wear in France, and it is true that there are some things you should NOT wear in France. Annie is in a good situation to talk about that because being someone who doesn’t worry much about clothing, she’s made every mistake in the book since moving home to France. But she’s working on it! Being an artist, Elyse worries a lot more about being stylish and has excellent tips to share. Click Continue reading to see our recommended Paris Packing List!

If you love our approach to travel and want to tour France with us, visit Addicted to France to look at upcoming tours.

Paris Packing List Episode Highlights

Join the Mailing list to get your Free Paris Packing List.

  • [4’11”] Americans tend to dress more casually than French people.
  • [6′] There is a Paris Style.
  • [7’50”] How to dress for Paris specifically.
  • [8’30”] No Bermuda shorts, sexy short shorts only for very young women.
  • [10’50”] Paris brings out the dressiness in people, but don’t get too dressy.
  • [11’30”] People don’t dress up to go out at night as much as they used to and you will not get turned away for not wearing a jacket and tie in Paris.
  • [13′] You can wear business casual even at the Symphony in France.
  • [14’10] Scarves will dress up any outfit as a decorative element for both men and women.
  • [15′] Practical tip: bring interchangeable items in dark solid colors and add colorful scarves or wraps. Women can bring summer dresses and capris.
  • [16’20”] Shoes: no sandals with socks, no clunky “nurse’s shoes”, but it’s OK to wear sandals and casual shoes.
  • [17’45] Men wear capris in France!
  • [18’20] Annie’s faux-pas at the Disneyland Hotel and at Louis Vuiton in Paris.
  • [22’44”] How to up your clothing game as a tourist in Paris: accessorize, wear a leather jacket (or a crochet jacket, or any sort of jacket), clothes that are cut closer to the body.
  • [24’20”] Change your outfit at the end of the day, women don’t wear t-shirts with words.
  • [26′] Some women in Paris wear dresses and high-heels, but they are not the majority. When walking a lot, wear closed shoes where your feet can’t move around too much.
  • [28’27”] No shorts for women over 30 in the city. Capris are fine. Sun-dresses and skirts are commonly worn in France.
  • [29’25”] Whatever you wear, you MUST have a bag that zips and goes across your torso. Men should not have their wallet in the back pocket of their pants.
  • [30′] Clean pants and a nice polo shirt works great for men, even if you are going to a nice restaurant.
  • [31′] A lot depends on who you hang out with. Fancy situations call for fancier clothes and accessories.
  • [32’44”] Layers are important in the winter.
  • [35′] French people wear fitting clothes, but don’t do it if you’re uncomfortable.
  • [38′] No baseball caps, berets are for old folks, Panama hats are stylish and can be worn by both men and women.
  • [40″] If you’re a “fluffy person” (aka fat) do what you want, wear what you want, don’t worry about what other people think. You don’t have to wear black.

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Seeing Doctors in France, Episode 133

Seeing Doctors in France, How Does It Work?


SAMU ambulance in France, doctors in FranceNobody wants to get sick on vacation, and folks who visit France certainly don’t want to be in an accident, but if it happens, you’ll find out first-hand what it’s like seeing doctors in France. I suggest you get acquainted with the way medicine works in France just in case. A lot of things are going to surprise you!

If you like this episode, you should also listen to Episode 131`

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Episode Highlights

  • What happens if you’re in an accident in France?
  • What if you’re unwell, but it’s not urgent?
  • How to find a doctor in France
  • 13 things you need to know about the French health care system
  • In France the insurance is socialized, doctors are in private practice
  • French doctors still make house calls
  • Answering service
  • You can choose any doctor you like
  • Most French doctors do not have staff
  • How the Carte Vitale works
  • How much will you pay?
  • French doctor’s office are plain-looking
  • French hospitals are plain-looking
  • Public hospitals vs. Clinics in France
  • Doctors who teach at medical schools
  • 50% of doctors in France are women
  • Medical tourism is not common in France

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