3/4

rose and strawberries

One of the things about the French that’s pretty well-known is that they certainly enjoy their wine. While statistics point to declining sales and consumption, I’d still dare to say that wine plays a very important role in French culture, as well as an integral part of its cuisine. And for that second one, I’m especially grateful.

I like wine, and being from California – and working in restaurants all of my life – I’m certainly no stranger to the pleasures of “the grape.” But even though wine has been simplified in America to boost consumption, such as wines with fruit-flavorings (I guess ‘grape-flavored’ wine isn’t enticing enough), there still is a bit of elitism associated with le vin. Yet in France, wine is no big deal and the wine aisle at the supermarket is just as big, if not bigger, than the mustard, coffee, paper towel, vinegar, sterilized milk, pasta, cereal, baby food, jam, and rice cake aisles – combined. It even threatens the yogurt selection in terms of scope, variety, and flavors.

Wine is also pretty inexpensive in France and the national average price that someone spends on a bottle hovers at around €3. In cafés, most glasses of wine cost anywhere from €2.50 to €5 or so, and it’s always a shock when I go to the states and order a glass, and when the bill comes, I realize I’ve just dropped $12, plus tax, plus tip. (I paid $24 for two ungenerously filled glasses of rosé at a casual pizzeria last time I was in the states. So I’ve learned not to rely on the server’s suggestion, and ask to see a wine list.) Because enjoying a glass of wine with a friend becomes a $30 proposition, it’s no wonder wine has a somewhat upscale reputation. Good grief, I’d be broke if I had to move back. But on the plus side, at least I could go back to enjoying my downscale reputation.

wine, milk, sriracha

We have wine every night with dinner at home. Like all newcomers, after my first few months of living in Paris, I worried that I was developing a drinking problem because I absolutely had to have wine every night. I wasn’t drinking to get inebriated – although after spending seven hours looking for curtain rings (anneaux) yesterday, and realizing this morning that I needed to return the ones I bought and start all over again looking for exactly the right size for what I thought was a standard size curtain rod, that will probably change later this afternoon.

[Part of it is, admittedly, my own fault. For every little thing I need to buy, there's a slew of new vocabulary, verbs, and type of shop that I need to learn about. And when I got overwhelmed by the intense heat and lack of ventilation at the BHV department store – which I am convinced the staff fiddles with to get customers to leave - and asked where the agneaux were kept, rather than anneaux, the saleswoman was within her right to look at me oddly since even though the BHV seemingly carries everything, they probably don't have a section of the store devoted to lambs, or agneaux.]

My real problem with wine is that it comes in 750ml bottles, which is about 25% too much for two people to drink at dinner. After working all day (on things like tracking down a pack of stupid metal rings) I try need to wind down by dinnertime. But I also need to keep my head about me because after dinner, there’s often a flurry of requests from folks back in the states, who are just starting their day. (If you never got a response, blame the bottle.)

after dinner

A while back, I saw wine in the grocery store labeled “Vin pour 2″ in a slightly tapered 500ml bottle, which seemed like a good idea. Except it wasn’t very good wine and was priced a lot higher than similar (or better) wines, bottled in regular 750ml bottles. So we usually make it through three-quarters of a bottle at night before prudence rears her head and tells me to quit. However then the next night, there’s a quarter of a bottle left to finish, then another bottle gets opened, half of which gets consumed.

In the summer, when rosé is the wine of choice (as I’ll admit that it often is during the other seasons), I go “green” and often buy it by le cube (box). Some Americans sniff their noses at wine in a box, but they’re popular in France because, 1) They’re less wasteful, 2) They cost less, since you’re not paying for bottles, 3) The wine is generally of drinkable quality, and 4) It keeps the wine in less contact with air, which helps the wine keep longer. If you live near a winery in France, often people will bring their own jugs for refilling and I’ve seen people bringing in bidons, or the same plastic jugs used for gasoline (which I assume they’re not using for the same purpose, in between fill-ups.)

strawberries in glass

I’ve got a few recipes for using up that remaining 1/4 of a bottle, and now that it’s strawberry season, a more immediate solution is to pile some juicy berries into a glass and pour the leftover wine on top of them for dessert. It’s something I learned they do in Gascony, although when I do it in Paris, I get some pretty odd looks. But not only does it help to polish off the last 25% of the wine, it’s one less dish to wash. And it sure beats the looks I get trying to find a flock of sheep in the department stores.



Related Links

Rhubarb Poached in Red Wine

Why You Should Drink White Wine with Cheese

Peach Leaf Wine

10 Goofy Foods You’ll Find in a French Supermarket

Cherries in Red Wine Syrup

76 comments

  • After enjoying wine at a French “cave” poured into a reusable jug, I got back to the US to find that it’s considered terrible to admit to buying wine by the box. I’m so glad you’re helping me “come out” on that score. I’ve even served wine from a box to guests, who have remarked on how good it was, only to smile sheepishly when I wink and inform them it comes from a box. Now I can just send them this post so they can see that finding this wine perfectly acceptable is nothing to be ashamed of!

  • Leftover wine? Have no idea what this is.
    But if I DID know, I’d make sangria
    for breakfast. Or put it in a tightly-capped,
    small glass jar, refrigerate it, and save it
    for soup or sauce. The very best idea
    is to drink with a friend, of course, so that
    there is absolutely no danger of this problem.
    Happy Friday!

  • When I was lived with a French woman, she put the leftover wine in a container to make her own vinegar. It was delicious!

  • When I was living with a French woman, she put the leftover wine in a container to make her own vinegar. It was delicious!

  • I like this idea! We probably throw out the equivalent of a bottle or more every two weeks. Financially no big deal here but my memory of wine prices in Toronto (fortunately fading) still make me flinch every now and then.

  • I actually freeze leftover wine for later use in cooking. It still retains its flavor and the alcohol cooks away anyway. I’ve done the same with leftover beer to use later in chili.

  • I think you mean cl, not ml, throughout.

    OOps, I was trying to decide between using the American standard (ml) and the one generally used in Europe (cl), so fixed them for unity. Thanks! -dl

  • I once bought a bottle of red in a paris supermarket for 3 euro, only to come back to Britain to find exactly the same bottle for sale in my local supermarket for the equivalent of 12 euro… I did want to move to France at that point!

  • Since living in France I find I can’t eat a meal without some wine. It just makes everything taste better and, so I’ve read, it causes you to eat more too. I don’t find any difference in taste with boxed wine but I find I drink a whole lot more when I have a box in the frig. Sort of lying to myself I think. I find myself drinking a whole lot more wine here than I ever did in the States. It just seems to add more to the quality of life.

  • The reason the wine is so cheap is that the bottles are so small. Bottles I buy here in the US are 750ml.

  • I swear it said 75ml before I posted.

  • I’m afraid we put the cork back and drink what’s left of the wine next day. Usually a bottle of wine does us 2-3 times (we tend to limit ourselves to one glass each on a “school night”). I like it in France when you eat in a restaurant and can order a 500 ml “pichet” between you – that’s the perfect amount for when you eat out.

  • I’m happy to know that wine is so affordable in France. (Next on our list to visit) We spent part of last fall in Italy and were shocked (and delighted) to pay 1/4 of what we pay in the US for wine.

    You made me laugh with the agneaux / anneaux mixup. In Asti, we set out to buy Roero peaches at the farmer’s market. To the owner of a fruit stand I said (feeling so clever),“Vorrei del Roero pesci, per favore.” He tilted his head and furrowed his brow. Then his eyes opened wide and he pointed to the sky. “Pesche!” he said. Pesci means fish.

    500ml bottles would be welcome in our home where we find it a challenge to cork up that extra bit. Perhaps your recipes will lend us some restraint. :)

    Thanks for the previous correction on the glitch! : ) -dl

  • We have the same problem with wine leftovers at dinner, and I often cook a dish with wine (risotto, involtini, ragù, etc.), and we drink the rest with it. Lately I use strawberries for leftovers, just like you. I am intrigued by the suggestion to freeze the wine for later cooking; I’ll have to try that.

    I am trying to convince my husband to move to a Mediterranean country (I’m from Italy) so we don’t have to spend as much in wine. OK, not just for that…

  • This is precisely my problem, only it’s just me. I think I need a box of rose!

  • We always buy by the box when we visit the vineyards in the Loire. We were converted by the woman in the cave who told us that it was exactly the same as went into the bottles.

  • I used to cover the Napa Valley for a wine trade magazine. We’d sample bottles at work, recork the unfinished wine and refrigerate it to bring home. When you’re ready for another glass, just let it come up to room or desired temperature. Wine “snobs” will be horrified but the winemakers and growers do it. There was even a study done that microwaved glasses of wine in 5 second increments to bring it to temperature and on blind taste tests, drinkers could not tell difference. I haven’t tried it and certainly wouldn’t experiment on premium wine but if you just can’t wait for that glass of wine…

  • After following the waiter’s suggestion in a beautiful Italian town, we ended up paying about 80 Euros for our lunch, while everyone alse around asked for the list and paid half the amount at most. Lesson learned! (?)

  • I must have wine every evening too. And yes, I always used to cork the wine back up and have it the next night. And we had more than just 25% of the bottle left when two people were done for one night! But anyway, now we buy a Bota Box of wine which is EXCELLENT wine and such a good value. It stays fresh in the inner lining covered by cardboard, pours easily from its great spout, and tastes great. And it’s only $18 for a box which is the equivalent of four bottles of wine.

  • I have bought several 375ml bottles and after drinking the wine rinsed them out and kept them. Now “any” bottle of wine I want comes in 375ml sizes because I use a funnel after opening it to save 1/2, leaving 2 nicely sized glasses of wine to drink with dinner. By eliminating almost all the excess air they seem to keep well, at least so far as I can tell.

    I have also frozen wine for cooking. It doesn’t really freeze hard, its more like a slush. Placed in a ziploc bag with all the air I can get out removed so it doesn’t sublimate, its a way to get a few tablespoons of wine when I need it for a pan sauce.

  • Anna: A number of people come to France and are reluctant to order the “house” wine, sold by the carafe or pitcher. But, especially in places where the house wine is featured on a blackboard (that is handwritten, not printed and indelible), often the wine is interesting and very drinkable. I think people just don’t want to be branded as “cheap tourists” but in fact, when that waiter goes out to eat, he likely orders the same thing (!) When in doubt, instead of being rushed by a waiter, I take a moment to look around and see what everyone else is doing, most notably, the locals.

    allison: I’ve read some recent stories and studies that say things like the shape of glasses really doesn’t determine how you taste the wine, and that especially fine wines are wasted on some people, because they can’t tell the difference. (Not that some people aren’t worth it, but that the subtleties of certain fine wines are lost on people who aren’t sensitive to them.) It’s funny how many rules there are that people think they need to follow. The owner of one of the best Champagne houses once told me that it was okay to put an ice cube in Champagne.

    Linda + Francesca: Yes, it’s easy to get spoiled by the reasonably priced wine in certain countries in Europe, like France and Italy. Always have to be careful to reel myself in when I’m back in the US, or other places where the wine doesn’t flow so freely : )

  • I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. You make me laugh and I love to hear about your adventures living in Paris and elsewhere. Thank You!

  • No-one’s mentioned the Vacu Vin wine saving option yet
    http://www.vacuvinonline.com/wine/
    White wine stays fresh for at least 4 days and red wine even longer – and the flavour keeps developing. Perfect for those who want/can handle only one glass a day. In France available at Casa shops. Champagne savers are also available in most if not all French supermarkets; cheaper model than the Vacu Vin version.

    On the other hand, probably very few of you really want to know how to make opened bottles last longer, especially bubbly.

    Great to hear about the freezing option and that it is conveniently slushy.

  • The mixup at BHV is hysterical…..so easy to do, there are lots of gaffes and “faux amis” which always make good stories later. It sounds like your flat is coming along well if you are on to curtain rings..keep us posted, we all loved hearing your renov. stories. I only wish we had your self-restraint when it comes to wine, such a part of our lives that we easily finish off a bottle (usually Kermit’s) every night….

  • My husband is a red wine snob… I love white wines and tell him there are times when you just need to buck the order and drink what you want with anything… no rules. I am chipping away at his rule a bit at a time.
    Love your stories, keep them coming and stay patient with the remodeling – many have been in your shoes but not in two languages !

  • Get a vinaigrier! It won’t use all of your leftover wine, but it takes quite a bit, and the quality of the vinegar is superior. I’ve been doing that for years with a vinegar mother that’s over 50 years old. Makes a great hostess gift, too.

  • We have the odd box of wine too and I swear every time we open one my husband says, “An Australian invented that.”

    I have probably made heaps of gaffes in Europe but they were too polite to tell me I was goofy. As long as I try to speak the language with a smile, it seems to work.

  • Sue: Thanks!

    Jennifer: I do have one of those, but to be honest, I haven’t found the wine to taste much different than if I simply re-cork it rather than use the sealer. (Although I still keep using it, from time-to-time)…

    Abra: I have seen those and should probably get one, since as you mentioned, the vinegar is quite good. But counter space is always a premium here in Paris, so may have to wait until I can afford that house out in the country : )

  • How about making wine vinegar with the leftover wine?
    Do you have a technique, David?

  • I love your article, you are becoming French! No leftover for the cuisine with us. We are French, we live in Michigan and we do find a large variety of wines from all over the world!

  • Wine in Paris is just exquisite. Leftover wine? What is that?. I have always dreamed of having my own vineyard in Southern France. Soon. Lovely blog you have here.

  • Oh how your blog makes me miss Paris! But I do not miss the godforsaken chaos that is the BHV. I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about it!

  • A comment above about chilling red wine and people snubbing it brought to mind a point passed along by a wine aficionado (paraphrasing): “room temperature” is misleading the “proper” winos since the notion originated in a time and place in which the room had stone walls and no central heating and was therefore colder than the average room a well-heeled wine connoisseur would relax in today to imbibe his/her noteworthy red.

  • I like to buy my summer rosé at the local cooperative. It’s 1E70 by the liter, local and usually pretty tasty.

    I had the same problem as you when I first arrived however! My family all think I’ve developed a drinking problem, but I’ve realized a glass of wine with dinner just makes the evening pleasant, relaxing – all about the pleasure of a quiet meal at the end of a hectic day.

  • I love that we’re all talking about our ‘drinking problems’ … we do realize that if we use that last quarter of the bottle to pour over strawberries for dessert and then we eat our desserts that we’ve drunk the entire bottle right? I’m not that good at math BUT if there’s just one of me and I’ve been buying the 750ml bottles if I’m going to try to fit within agreed limits it might be easiest if I just go whole hog every second night and/or meet someone … I can’t see the night ending w me syphoning wine into little bottles I have had to figure out what size needed to be for me to get (probably at BMV) without knowing french and then having to figure out if I should eat the strawberries the next day and what to do if there are two desserts … I think it’d give me the shakes. I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

  • Was at a tiny winery yesterday for a tasting – good pinots and a delightful coastal chardonnay fermented with champagne yeast! BUT, the prices are out of this world $30-60 for a bottle and direct from the source! Imagine what the restaurants would charge for the same wine! American wines are very expensive compared to imported wines! Not sure why I would pay for American wines when I can get decent drinkable imported wine for less than $10 a bottle, some even less than $5! Not those “Charles deux Bucks” at Trader Joe’s! When in Paris for 2 months every spring, I delight in the regional wines Madiran and Cahors) which cost me around 4euros. We don’t get much of these regionals in California! Paris here I come, even in this unceasing deluge!

  • I cannot eat dinner without a glass of wine. I almost can’t even cook a meal without a glass at my elbow. A couple of years ago, I was taking medication and had to stop drinking alcohol for a while. It was a relief to find that I didn’t go through withdrawal (kidding, sort of) but dinners did not taste nearly as good without wine. We use the VacuVin on leftover bottles of red wine. The small bits go into sauces and stews to make them more delicious.

  • I have been lucky enough to have visited Paris twice. It is a city you never forget. This blog makes me smile and I feel like I am back in Paris, if just for a few minutes. I think I will go get a box of wine. Living alone, I don’t like to open a bottle just for myself. Great idea!

  • “Est-ce que je peux vous proposer un verre de Condrieu?” the lady asked us when we entered the restaurant. Having learned about that very wine that day, I kind of self assuredly responded; “Oui bien sure, volontiers”. And thus learned my lesson. But, boy it was worth it.

  • Rijk: Yes, when they proposer a glass of Champagne or an apéro, depending on the restaurant, I am often wary. (Some fancy places will charge up to €25 for whatever it is they’re pouring.) Often people will meet and have an apéritif at a nearby café before dinner, but sometimes, it’s nice to have a glass in the restaurant where you’re dining. In spite of the price…

    gardenbre: Thanks!

    Taipan: I agree. I tried that 2buck stuff once and it was pretty awful, I must say. You can get much better wines for a few bucks more at TJs or elsewhere.

    Holly: I love those cooperatives in the French countryside. That’s one of the downsides of living in Paris. Harder to stock up on wine : )

  • Just ordered a wine from California that is sold in 4 cups and equals a full bottle. Only you get one cup at a time — I have no idea on the taste — but for the diet I am willing to try and be able to have wine with dinner. Very much enjoy your blog — wish I could live in France if only for a short while!!

  • I have seen a recipe for wine jam recently to use up any leftover wine, but it makes me a little nervous. Wine and pectin? I am just not sure…

  • Your strawberry/wine dessert reminded me of my French grandmother. In Provence they also add a little sugar…so simple and so good!

  • This post reminds me of something that has puzzled me for a long time. While a glass of wine at a French restaurant may be cheaper in the U.S., in my experience there is rarely more than one wine by the glass to choose from, and that wine tends to be bad.

    My wife only drinks white, and I much prefer red, so when we’re in France we almost always end up ordering glasses and I am almost always disappointed. My theory on this is that no self-respecting French person would consider ordering less than a bottle with dinner; that glasses are mostly for tourists.

    David: What’s your take on this?

    • A lot depends on the restaurant. In a simple café the wine can range from being just fine, to plonk (as they say.) But if you lunch at a café, you’ll likely see people drinking the house wine from a carafe – partially because they don’t need to order a whole bottle, which is too much wine for lunch. In a better restaurant, the wine will be better and people will order glasses or carafes, or bottles.

      (On handwritten blackboards, there’s a wide berth in quality of wines on offer. Wines like Gamay are less-expensive, but often hard to find a good one. Likewise white Sancerres are usually priced higher, but are more consistent than some of the Muscadets.)

      It’s hard to generalize because some smaller restaurants have really good wine by the glass while others don’t. If I’m eating in a nice restaurant for dinner, we’ll usually get a bottle although for lunch, a 50cl carafe for 2 is usually sufficient.

  • This has to be, for me, the funniest, most bizarre and true to French life blog of yours that I have read to date.
    Firstly you have the “sin bin” syndrome, this having been drummed into us from birth. So we get fat on left overs and cook with the left over wine.
    Secondly in the “80’s” it was a “sin” not to drink wine in France. I found it difficult to go to a restaurant for a meal and refuse the wine as I do not drink alcohol. My French, Parisian, friend who was born and bred in the 18th A was embarrassed to have to ask for “l’eau s.v.p” as she would then have to suffer the contempt of the waiter.
    Our “biggest” faux pas was our experience as tea totallers at TAILLEVENT restaurant. We had gone with Nadine to taste the food and to enjoy a ‘one star’ restaurant, which we had been told would soon be a “three star” Michelin.
    I was not able to make a booking for about 3 months. Nadine called and mentioned that she worked at a “certain embassy” and she was offered any day of the week.
    We had no problem choosing from their menu while enjoying the ambience
    and the lavish attention. We joked at our toilet visit where the attendant did everything but “pass water” for us.
    Then shock, horror we refused the wine menu, choosing water and a soft drink instead. The word was out as the chef heard on the “grape vine” that we would not be ordering “du vin.” Here we were sitting in the “inner circle’ the very bosom of the
    place and were not ordering wine!
    The staff handled the “promblem” with aplomb and served the bottled water as if it were wine, refilling our exquisite glasses as soon as we had taken a sip. We started off feeling like plebs and then began to giggle as the act continued to be played out to the “grande finale.”
    Now it is acceptable to have food preferences or allergic reactions to alcohol and yet wine and dine rhyme and still go together.

  • What?!!!! A WHOLE Bottle?!! – response from a waiter somewhere in Napa area. Don’t they make sufficient for one per table?
    Anyway, back to reality, we find the BIB’s (Bag-In-Box) as they call them down in Luberon an excellent way to have wine available when and how much you need. The price is a bonus.

  • I very much enjoy your blog in general, but your posts on wine and the French attitude to wine catch my attention every time. I work with fragrance–an industry that has strong roots in France, and I keep drawing parallels between fragrance and wine, especially in terms of their marketing. The American wine producers developed a whole vocabulary for wine, describing wines by grape varietal, etc., which isn’t the way wine was sold traditionally in France.

    I always thought that it was an interesting approach, that it gave the consumer the language, the lexicon and that the fragrance industry should do something similar. But I often encounter people who own vineyards in France, and they tend to think that the American approach is the worst way of marketing wine and that it creates a culture of “wine snobbery.” I’m an outsider, and it’s hard for me to judge, but it’s always an interesting topic.

  • your “agneaux – anneaux” story reminds me of the time I phoned La Coupole after supper there. I explained that I’d lost my ‘collants’ sometime during the meal, when I meant to say ‘collier’! The woman I contacted was amazingly kind and suggested I meant my necklace. Nevertheless, they found neither collants nor colliers.

  • I’m so grateful to have found your blog. It makes me smile and wish I were in Paris.

  • French friends introduced us to the practice of taking (brand new and untainted) plastic jerry cans to the cave and getting them filled with your wine of choice, then bringing them home and bottling the wine yourself for your home use. We were used to sterilising and corking our own bottles for homemade wine, so this made sense.

    Our friends would go and buy a gallon every month or so, just to have a glass with their dinner every evening. But because we lived in the UK, my parents would buy several gallons of wine while on our summer camping holidays and bring them home to last as much of the next year as possible.

    My parents and their friends used to laugh every time they visited one particular Carrefour because back in the 1970s when they first went to the shop, it had a set of 4 taps set into one wall, marked Red, Red Special, White and Rose and you would take your empty bottles or jerry can along, fill them and pay for however many litres you’d bought. It was Vin Ordinaire – simple everyday wine – like the kind you could buy for a couple of francs in any grocer’s. That was sold in clear glass bottles with five stars embossed on the neck and a resealable plastic pop cap instead of a cork.

    Sorry – you’ve started me off on a real reminiscence there!

  • Hi, Now that I’m back in Fl. your blog on rose brought tears to my eyes. For some unknown reason here in Fl. I’m having difficulty finding dry roses here. This is just a suggestion, but purchasing a good stopper for left over wine, works for me. Red wine will last at least 3 to 4 days, white 2 to 3 days and needs to be refrigerated. Also wines by the glass are much more expensive in the states. It’s important to remember that in France , the house wine is usually of good quality , since the owner usually has a relative that owns vineyards. Here in Fl. The restaurant people listen to the sales people and the house wine is usually of poor quality / a second label of a winery. Thanks

  • ne pas oublier les pêches (crues ou cuites) au vin ni la trempée des moissonneurs du siècle dernier…

    • J’ai une recette pour le vin de pêche sur le site (avec les feuilles) – j’ai mis le lien à la fin de l’article – je suis d’ccord, c’est super : )

  • Wait, curtain rings? For curtains? At a window? Does this mean the appart’ is almost ready for prime time?

  • David: This is unrelated to the post, I just didn’t know where else to ask :-)
    First – thanks so much for the blog, I love it!

    It’s my first time to post as I have a question:
    I’m thinking of taking some culinary classes in Paris (in English). I’m looking for something for a week or two (in the future I could take a longer course there if I move). I’d like an advice from a Parisan and some opinions.
    These are the schools I’ve looked at:
    Le Cordon Bleu
    École Ritz Escoffier
    École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse

    Do you have any knowledge of these? I think they’re all of acceptable quality. LCB only have either long certificate programs or 1-day workshops, no weekly programs, which is why I considered Escoffier. A friend from Paris told me he knows many Parisians who go to Ducasse also. Do you have some ‘insider’ info? Perhaps know what type of people go to these and if it’s mostly for pleasure/social/professionals?
    Thanks so much!! :-)

  • anneaux/agneaux…Our friend Patti produced a blank stare then a chuckle when in a particularly frantic moment she asked “Ou est la guerre?” when looking for the train station.

  • i am far from an expert on wine and don’t actually drink it myself, but it makes me sad to think that sales are declining in france…

  • Is buying curtain rings online not an option in France?

  • I had to laugh (bitterly) at your comment on restaurant wine prices being expensive in the US. Here in New Zealand, a moderately priced local white will run you $15 – $18 a glass, and a good local red will start at $25 a glass (that includes tax and we don’t tip). It’s enough to make you turn to box wine (known here as Chateau Cardboard).

  • I have tried almost every imaginable way to preserve leftover wine. I’ve concluded that most methods are simply efforts at getting wine drinkers to purchase another gadget. A few years ago, my wife and I tried an experiment. When we have leftover wine from a meal — which is many days as we drink only 1-2 glasses/meal — we simply recork and put it (red) in a cool place or the refrigerator (white). Initially, we were surprised that virtually no wine deteriorated in quality over the day or two it took to finish a bottle. Even more surprising though was the fact that many red wines actually improved. It seems to suggest that we were opening somewhat younger wines, perhaps. We always open finer wines no later than the morning of the dinner, often the day before. I would encourage you to try this approach. It’s less costly than many others, wine gets consumed and enjoyed as it was intended, and it’s often better the second day.

    Second, I also want to thank you for sharing your adventures and perspectives. I have long wished to live part of my life in Paris. Through your thoughtful blog, I get to do so vicariously.

    Lastly, I would love to have an update on your apartment. You seem to have simply stopped describing your adventure. I am particularly interested in the choices you have made for your kitchen.

    Again, thanks so very much.

  • For those of you out there who have not tried this combination; vin de Jura with Comté, make the effort to give it a go. Be prepared for the first tasting to be somewhat shocked, even put off, but don’t give up. It is imperative that you have a good Comté on hand to try this sort of French Sherry. When I come home from work, not every day, but enough days, I reach for my tiny favourite sherry glass, cut a small piece of Comté and enjoy. Simply enjoy. Then that accomplished, it is time to find another yoke to stick my head in for more work at home.

  • “Agneaux/anneaux” cases happen to all expats. I’ve been living in the US for a long time, but still such things happen to me sometimes. The other day I needed to buy some UV protection coating for my deck. I asked a shop assistant for UFO protection coating (it just slipped off my mouth without me realizing it). You should see that look on his face, and poor guy, so ready to please a customer, went on to look for some liquid that will protect me from aliens landing on my deck. :))) I have quite a few stories of that kind.
    As for the wine, we drink it every evening at dinner, and I keep leftovers tightly closed in the fridge. I have to bring it to room temperature the next day, if it’s a red wine. All rose wines, that I consider a summer choice, are so good with ice cubes. Champagne with ice, why not?
    750 ml will not seem too much if you eat fatty food, like cheese or butter. It will slow the alcohol absorption, you will not get drunk, just happy and relaxed.
    David, I like reading your blog, and today’s post made my day. :) Thank you.

  • Another anneau/agneau story: My high school French teacher told about going to France and being asked if she had slept well. She responded, Mais oui, mon matelot était très confortable.

  • Nina, yes, you can make your own vinegar with wine : but only red wine. You put the rest of the wine in an empty bottle (every kind of red wine, it doesn’t matter), and the bottle must stay in a cupboard kitchen.
    Your vinegar will be much more sweet that the one you buy in shop.
    ANd David, if you can’t finish a bottle during a dinner, no problem : close it, put it in your fridge … and drink it the day after !! ;)

  • Take a pamplemousse (grapefruit), peel and chop into 1 inch cubes. Freeze or chill. Place 3-5 cubes in class then fill glass with chilled rosé. Makes for a wonderfully refreshing after lunch treat on a hot day. I picked this up in Provence at some point but don’t remember exactly where.

  • Recently bought a box of malbec equivalent to four bottles, and it really does taste just as good a few days or a week later. It’s supposed to be good for at least a month, but here we get to the problem with boxed wine. I lose track of how much I’m drinking! A bottle between me and my bf is enough, and of course we stop when the 750 ml bottle is empty. Much harder to see in a box. This box is feeling surprisingly light, and I doubt we’ll make it to the month.

    Anyway, for those days when there is some leftover wine in the bottle, I look forward to trying it on strawberries. Thanks for the tip.

  • When you live in wine country in France, you end up buying almost all your wine either in BIBs (Bag in Boxes) or by taking your own cubitainers (plastic jugs) to the winery and getting them filled from the vats. With the bulk wine, you have to bottle the wine yourself at home, unless you drink it really fast. The BIBs keep for week or even a month or two, even after you’ve started emptying them. Wine is not expensive here in the Loire Valley because it’s not a luxury product. I figure I’m saving a fortune just on wine by living here instead of in California. Average cost for good local wine is between 1€ and 3€ per liter. You get the equivalent of 13 bottles for between 10 and 25 euros. That’s AOC wine.

  • French Rabbit Pinot Noir in the box is, well, quite drinkable!!

    It is a hard sell with some of my guests… when they are aware ;-)

    Thanks for bringing me out of the boxed wine closet!

  • Living alone and having developed the taste for a glass of wine with meals, I finally bought a box of wine a few years ago. It works well for me. I found the vacu-vin device useful, but time consuming, when all I wanted to do was sit down with my meal and sip the wine.
    The government agency that controls wine and liquor sales, in Ontario Canada, has limited selections in my rural area, but I find the boxes of 3-4 litres of wine a good way to enjoy wine, also very handy for when you need some for cooking. So pleased to read that I’ve not fallen off the good eating/drinking train.

    I’m in Paris right now, treated myself to a few demi-bottles of wine, a Cote du Rhone and a Samur champagne. A little overpriced compared to the full sized bottles, but alas, I have no one to share it with.

    I recall Francis Mayes in her book, Under the Tuscan Sun, talked of going to the wine co-op and buying large quantities of wine to decant into bottles at home.

  • Another way to use leftover wine is to freeze it in ice cube containers and use later in cooking.

    The quality of boxed wine keeps improving so it is definitely worth a mention.

  • Hi Dave!
    I just finished your Sweet Life in Paris book- it was so charming! It sounds like you’ve had many challenges adjusting to Paris life- which were absolutely matched by sweet moments that make life beautiful :). I love your open outlook to new people & places and your passion for the sweet things in life.

    I usually re-cork my wines as well- but these usually do not last longer than a day or two anyhow in our house! I remember my roommate keeping Franzia boxed wine in our fridge back in the post-collegiate days :).

  • Hi Dave, thank you for your informative blogs about pastries and Paris. I’ve downloaded your App and LOVE it, even though I haven’t visited Paris yet.

    Anyway, thanks to this blog post & discussion I gain more knowledge about wine cultures in different countries. I’ve never been to Paris & in my writing group, I wrote a few paragraphs about two Parisian guys having dinner in a bistro. Since I’m not much of wine drinker, my friend who’s been there a couple of times criticized me because patrons don’t order a bottle of Bordeaux, they drink wine from carafe instead, and that they shouldn’t order chocolate mousse for dessert (because chocolate doesn’t pair well with wine, apparently). Heh, I was so embarrassed. Well, there’s so much to learn about wine and dining for me it seems.

  • David you made me laugh remembering the countless times I thought I was pronouncing a word a la Francaise, mais it meant rein to the recipient. Just keep making the effort, at least that’s what je croire. Avoir K

  • Dear David – thank you so very much for posting about wine and strawberries. I spent 6 weeks in France when I was 15 as an exchange student, and many MANY years later, I can tell you I’ve never forgotten the lovely taste of strawberries and wine. And the very way my “French grandmother” just whipped them up and brought them to the patio in the way that my biological family in the summer would bring
    Jell-o or a Hoodsie to the table in summer. Both geographics of treat are great, but the wine and berries always stuck with me as both unusual and a delight. Thanks for bringing me back to July 1988! Merci! -Marci

  • I used to work for Systembolaget (Swedish off license) whilst studying at university (alcohol is state owned). ANY alcohol is expensive in Sweden and drinking on a school night only happens if a) it was the mother of all bad days b) you’re an alcoholic. I read in Systembolagets own magazine that if you reseal your wine and pop it in the fridge, the flavour of the wine remains unchanged up to 3 months! This was a test done by a panel of well respected wine experts who thought this was a wonderful money saving ploy, not to mention you no longer feel guilty about throwing away that1/4 bottle of vino. I never finish reds (whites and rose seem easier to drink) and seem to keep a bottle with leftovers waiting in the fridge. When I fancy a tipple, I pour myself a glas and wait for the temp to rise then smugly think to myself that I get called a geek a lot, but I in the end am wining and winning.