We were on a wine tour in Provence today, and EB had just bought some wine. Mid-chat with someone, he’d walked away leaving (I thought) €14 change behind.
Our lovely English-speaking French guide was standing nearby and, to be sure I wasn’t taking someone’s money by mistake, I asked him:
“Is that Frank’s or yours?”
Say that out loud, with a bit of a French accent, and you’ll know what’s coming next…
“It’s euros. We don’t have francs here anymore,” he replied.
I smiled. “Oh, no,” I said. “I mean, is that Frank’s change?”
“Bien sur, we change many years ago.”
“Ah, oui,” I said, shrugging in that very-French way I’m learning.
But behind us, one of the other Australian ladies on our tour was looking confused. “Who’s Frank? Are you Frank?” she said to him.
“No, he’s Jacques,” I said.
“Then who’s Frank?”
But some things you just can’t explain…
So, apart from practicing French with the tour guide, I learnt that France is very prescriptive when it comes to viticulture.
Appellations mean that each region can only use certain grapes in their wine making and often at particular percentages.
This is pretty handy to know, and explains why the labels clearly identify the region, but often don’t mention the grape variety.
It also explains why a waiter looked at me oddly the other day when I asked for un verre du vin blanc, s’il vous plait. Sauvignon?
“Sauvignon? Non. Bergerac.” he said, which I had a vague idea was a region…
Oui très bien seemed the appropriate answer. At €2.50 a glass, I wasn’t about to argue.
At least I know what I’m ordering when I see a wine from Provence… I think. We may have worked out the whole wine thing by the time we leave, but I doubt it.
Oh well…When it comes to French wines, ignorance still ends up being bliss. Bonne journée!