Savoir-vivre à la française: speaking French around a glass of wine !


In France, September not only marks the start of the school year, it is also grape harvest season! Wine is a must in French gastronomy and therefore, harvest season is a very important time of year. On the French Riviera, where the International Center of Antibes is located, and everywhere in Provence, the king of wines is of course the rosé! Indeed, 80% of the wine production in Provence is dedicated to rosé, a wine that lends itself perfectly to an apéro on the terrace and to seafood tasting. But wine is more than just a drink, it is inherent to French culture and is found in everyday language too. Let’s take a closer look at a few French expressions inspired by wine production and consumption.

Mettre de l’eau dans son vin

This saying, literally translated as “to put water in one’s wine” emerged in the 17th century. In those times, it was not unusual to blend wine – which was often very strong - with a little water. Moreover, according to Greek mythology, only Dionysus had the right to drink pure wine while mortals had to mix it. "To put water in one’s wine" means making concessions, and moderating one’s speech or actions.

Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire

The origins of this expression — “when the wine has been drawn it ought to be drunk” — goes back to the 16th century. At the time, wine could only be bought from a winemaker or a wine seller who pulled the wine from the barrel and bottled it on demand. To waste wine would have been a tremendous mistake! This saying means that whoever starts something must finish it, must see things through. It can also mean that one needs to take responsibility and make up for one’s mistakes.

Blanc puis rouge, rien ne bouge; rouge puis blanc, tout fout le camp

Here it goes: “White then red, nothing moves; red then white, it all goes to hell.” More than a saying, this sentence is meant to be a technical memo too. Indeed, mixing alcohol is known to be a one-way ticket to the bathroom and to a serious hangover. Thanks to this Alexandrine, wine drinkers can combine red and white without fearing a painful awakening on the next day. Drinking red after white would cause no, or little, unwanted side effects while the opposite would have unfortunate consequences. It is not said whether this theory is scientifically proven; so the best way to avoid it all going down the drain is to drink responsibly. French sayings and expressions are always a great way to learn French. If the idea of enjoying a good glass of rosé while learning French on the French Riviera seduces you, do not hesitate to contact us for more information on our French language camps. Cheers!

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