Having Wine For Class

Gwen Lee
March 15, 2016

Bonjour from the Paris BIA center!

Preston Mohr at the IES Abroad BIA center giving an introduction to wine appreciation.


Let's discuss wine! As the stereotype goes, French people drink lots of wine. It’s true, but not in the way American’s presume. Contrary to popular belief, the French are not drunks because of all the wine they consume. The French do not drink to get drunk, they drink to either socialize or add to the flavors of a meal. Our program attended a fantastic wine conference hosted by wine expert Preston Mohr, who taught us how to drink wine the French way.


Wine is not to be chugged. In Europe, wine is not thought of as an alcoholic beverage. Instead, wine is the staple of a meal. This is best explained in his popular memoir, A Moveable Feast, when Ernest Hemingway says, “In Europe, we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.” Wine is part of the culture. Wine can add to the flavors of foods and thus many Parisians drink wine with dinner. C’est normal! Wine is also a common beverage of choice while socializing. People often hang out over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Note that they always have a snack like olives while drinking wine so that they do not get drunk. It is very common to see Parisians chatting over a glass of wine at a café in the middle of the day. C’est la vie!


Our samples of pairing wines and cheeses.


France is the world’s largest wine producing country. France also regulates the origin and production methods of wine. This means that French wine is often of good quality and affordable. When you shop for wine, there are many aspects to look at when deciding on which bottle to choose. The easiest tip that stuck with me is to go for wines with better classification. The quality and taste of the wine is highly dependent on the quality and origin of the grapes they are made of. Thus, the more specific the origin of the wine, the better (because of the importance of terroir which you can read more about here). Somewhere on the label of the bottle, you will see one of the three words or acronym that follow.

  • The lowest on the classification pyramid is Vin De Table (V.D.T.) or Vin De France (V.D.F.).

  • A step up is Vin De Pays (V.D.P.) or Indication Geographique Protegee (I.G.P.).

  • Buy This One -> The best wines are labeled Appellation d’Origine Controlee (A.O.C) or Appélation d’Origine Protegee (A.O.P.).


Wine and cheese in class! How great is this?!


The French have also perfected their wine etiquette, which is important but very complicated. My major learning points: hold the bottle by the base, not the neck, and only fill the glass ⅔rd’s full. When tasting wine: look at the color and opacity of the liquid, smell for characteristics (ex. fruity), and taste to compare to what you expected when looking and smelling the wine. This advice helped me get through multiple fancy dinners.


Lucille handing out more cheese!


When choosing a wine for a specific meal: go for a light wine for light food and vice versa. The heaviness of the wine can determined by its color. For food, the heaviness is dependent on its flavor.

  • The lightest, white wine, goes with seafood and creamy rich cheeses (ex. goat cheese).

  • Red wines that are light and fruity go well with poultry, pork, and simply prepared red meats. It also goes well all cheese so light red the safe choice of wines.

  • The darkest, red wines that are full bodied, should be paired with red meat and stewed dishes. It also goes well with mature or hard cheeses.


I hope these quick facts about wine lead you to explore the wonderful wines that France has to offer. Monsieur Mohr left us with the French Proverb: "In water one sees one's own face, in wine one beholds the heart of another." 

Bon jounée,


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Gwen Lee

<p>Salut! Je m&#39;appelle Gwen. I am a sophomore at Babson College and currently about 11% fluent in French. I hope to remedy that while wining and dining in the beautiful city of Paris. I am majoring in Business with a focus in Marketing. Follow along my stories to experience the ups and downs of studying abroad à Paris!</p>

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