The Glass Half-Full

white wine

I usually have to spend a lot of time speaking in the conditional around here (using “it could be said that”, or “in most cases”…which is starting to make me sound like a politician) because there are always exceptions to every rule. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that one rule that is almost steadfast in France is that glasses are rarely filled more than half-full. (Noticed how slyly I popped in “almost” and “rarely”- which are obvious proof that it’s going to be a hard habit for me to break.) It was never explained to me why, or in the case of a glass being half-empty, why not. Yet I think it’s one of those “only in France” rules that gets implemented because a full glass is simply pas joli, or not attractive.

It’s a hard concept for us Americans to fathom, a place where full=better, and an oversized steak hanging over the edges of a plate is more appealing than a few slices of beef neatly plated up and arranged on the plate. And it amuses me that many people judge the quality of a restaurant by how full they are when they leave. Probably the biggest complaint, in fact, you hear coming from people when they didn’t like a place was because they left and weren’t full.

I don’t know how that’s possible because when I go back to the states, I can barely make it though my main course because the appetizers are about the same size as a French plat principal. And I am bound to be stripped of my San Francisco stripes because I can no longer make it through a Mission burrito. But when it comes to wine, I somehow find the willpower to get through whatever is put in front of me.

wine and ice

On a recent trip to Provence, I forgot how the “never full” glass doesn’t necessarily pertain to wine. And my ability to make it through a very full glass of wine was tested, especially at 10:30 in the morning (or – gulp – earlier), when it’s typical to stop in a café to prendre un verre. Nor does the admonition not to put ice in your wine hold true. In fact, one café brought out a bowl of ice with the wine, the helpful patronne telling us as she set it down, “It’s much more sympathiquenon?

For those irked by what is perceived as stinginess of Paris cafés who offer up drinks with a lone cube of ice languishing on the surface, barely cooling down the beverage past the room temperature mark, head to Provence, where ice is practically forced on you. However being able to put ice in your wine assumes that there’s room for a glaçon or two in the glass.

white wine

Curiously, at the café where we had the rosé (which we had at a more reasonable hour, in the afternoon), the server brought out a little ramekin of salty store-bought mini crackers. Since we were in Provence, we asked about having some olives (which would have been plus sympathique – non?) and the waitress was surprised, telling us that people from Paris usually preferred the crackers, which was news to me. (She may have taken a cue from me and slipped in that they normalement prefer crackers, but I didn’t catch that.) But she was kind enough to comply, along with an extra glass of ice, which filled the glasses up a little bit plus prettily.

Rosé

The full glass of patron-pleasing hospitality and generosity is expressed nowhere better than in Japan, where you are served filled-to-the-rim cups or boxes (masu) of sake. And although I’m not precisely sure what a half-filled glass in France means, if you come to France and your glass is half-full, note that it’s not a lack of graciousness on the part of the host or hostess, but simply a desire to keep Paris as plus joli as possible. However in Provence, all the rules are off. And you’re welcome to enjoy your wine however you like, noon and night. And in the morning as well.

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78 comments

  • Katie
    September 19, 2013 2:19pm

    I’ve noticed that the nicer restaurants in my city fill the wine glass only half full.

  • September 19, 2013 2:39pm

    Bring on the full Provencal glasses!

  • September 19, 2013 2:44pm

    Oh man, I was in Beaune for lunch once (we usually stop there on our way to Chamonix) and we got a half bottle to share. I am not really a fan of waiter-fills-up-the-glass-for-you so I usually take matters into my own hands. I filled up my glass to about 2/3s full (this is a real potbelly bourgogne glass, too) and the gasp from both the waitress and the front of the house manager was audible.

    From my beer background I can tell you why, when I pour a beer into a tulip glass, I don’t fill it all the way up to the top: the shape of the glass concentrates the aromas into a more easily-smelled area. But you don’t need 2/3s of a glass empty to catch the aromas.

  • Bebe
    September 19, 2013 3:06pm

    “In the business” in the United States, a standard pour is about 5 oz. An estimated 5 pours per bottle. When I was involved with heavy duty wine aficionados the partially filled glass was considered to be a must for purposes of aeration, swirling – the ritual. The exception was champagne.

  • September 19, 2013 3:53pm

    Just goes to show that once you think you’ve got it all figured out, along comes a surprise. If there’s one cultural thing that gets my goat it’s when people represent an aspect of a culture as completely universal. So far, I’ve found that there is always an exception to the rule to be found somewhere. And the folks who are up for taking note of those variations on the theme with an air of polite curiosity are the best ones to share a glass of wine with.

    • September 19, 2013 4:26pm
      David Lebovitz

      People from each culture are wired in various and different ways, so there are bound to be similarities because of the way we’re all brought up differently. I think they’re all kind of fun and make us interesting. I did like how the waitress immediately knew we were from Paris and brought us those store-bought crackers!

  • kat
    September 19, 2013 4:16pm

    One of the craziest things in Germany is that even in fancy restaurants, wine glasses have to have a little mark of where they fill the wine to. So bizarre.

    • September 19, 2013 4:24pm
      David Lebovitz

      They do that in Switzerland as well.

    • Brooke
      September 20, 2013 12:16am

      It’s the same in Australia, and it’s called a ‘legal pour’, a standard drink size.

  • September 19, 2013 4:18pm

    …and that’s not the only reason I live in Provence……mais presque!

  • Lucille Alice
    September 19, 2013 4:19pm

    But of course, you knew all along that there is a reason wine does not fill the glass completely– and it is not just the stinginess of the bar tenders. Leaving some room n the glass allows you to appreciate the aroma of the wine. And the aromas in the wine, even in a chilled white, are part of the enjoyment. C’mon, you knew all along.

  • September 19, 2013 4:20pm

    I don’t like my plate overfilled but I really, really like a full glass of wine. I don’t care how it looks. Why? Because I want to drink a glass of wine, not a shot. When in France, I’ve thought of ordering 2 glasses of wine at one time and pouring one into the other glass, just to stop me from scowling at a partial glass of wine. If the house wine is drinkable, I’ll always order a quarter or half carafe and after the waiter pours some into the glass and leaves, I pour more in :D Bottles of wine are even better. You can have several full glasses of wine. Tres Jolie!

    • September 19, 2013 4:24pm
      David Lebovitz

      The carafe: Très jolie…and plus économique as well!

  • September 19, 2013 4:39pm

    Ideally a wine glass should never be filled to the brim as part of the enjoyment of wine is to be able to smell the wine. We use only two key senses of taste when appreciating wine but have over 10,000 senses of smell. In an ideal world a glass should be tapered at the top to catch aromas, with a longish stem for swirling and filled half full to fully appreciate it.

    Wines are also often served to cold, if the glass frosts up you have over chilled it which means that you have numbed the aromas and flavours. This might not matter in some cases, but it is a shame if you have just spent a few bob on a decent glass!!

  • September 19, 2013 4:48pm

    I agree with Bebe and Emma. I enjoy smelling and swirling my wine (I’m mostly a red drinker) and can’t stand it when American waiters fill my glass too full!

  • September 19, 2013 4:51pm

    A Provencal rosé with a cube of ice is my favorite summer drink!

  • Rick
    September 19, 2013 4:53pm

    I’ve never had a full glass of wine in San Francisco–even at my house–and I’ve lived here 25 years. I do like smelling the wine, and a full glass sloshes. One of my gripes is that bars fill your cocktail glass to the brim. You are then left with two bad alternatives: let the excess spill over your fingers or lean over and slurp enough out to avoid the spill. But I do think 2/3 full might be the best of all possible fills.

  • September 19, 2013 4:59pm

    I thought it was half-full so there would be room to swirl and smell the wine

  • September 19, 2013 4:59pm

    I’ve gone into more than a few working-class cafés in French cities where a ballon would be a full glass (like the one in the top photo).

    I don’t really feel the need to swirl a fairly ordinary table wine around in my glass to catch aromas.

    And at home, casually, with close friends and not particularly posh wines, I’m very happy with my little Duralex tumblers. And they get filled at least half-way, usually about two-thirds.

    The size of meals in the US is a scandal. Even here in Québec they are often too large, but pale in comparison with those south of the border. I couldn’t possibly finish such a meal, and shouldn’t – I’m of boomer vintage and simply don’t need so much food. I hope it is becoming more possible to eat just a starter or a smaller portion.

  • Nancy
    September 19, 2013 5:00pm

    I always thought the half-empty glass of wine allowed you to swirl the wine around in it before drinking. The wine always tastes better that way. When I’m served wine in a big glass designed for cabernet sauvignon, for example, I don’t expect it to be filled to the brim because then it would hold an entire bottle of wine. I’d like to take it a bit more slowly than that.

  • September 19, 2013 5:05pm

    I’ll have to ask my dad about this (he’s French). I’m trying to picture him filling his and Mom’s glass at the dinner table, but can’t ‘see’ how full the glasses were. Of course, they rarely drank white wine, which doesn’t need the room to breathe like red wine does. I’m on a mission to find out what he knows though. Thanks for that.

  • Deborah Stratmann
    September 19, 2013 5:10pm

    As I look at each of your pictures, I find those with the glass less than full are far more aesthetically pleasing to my eye. One may get more bang for their buck with a full glass but I do find it gross looking. Rather like so many restuarants in America that over fill a plate.

    dws

  • suedoise
    September 19, 2013 5:15pm

    Rosemary Mullally you must be Irish, in continental Europe your style in public is impossible.
    As for France foreign ladies are allowed every freedom. Of course.
    But the right way in public is very little wine in small glasses with your meal.
    Or sitting for ages with a coupe or two of champagne in a delicious bar.
    I recommend the Bristol in Paris.

  • Jeanne
    September 19, 2013 5:19pm

    Half full works for me with both food and wine…the aroma and the visual to me is so important, but perhaps that is because in a previous life I was a food stylist (called home economics then).
    Also, ate at Le Square Guardette recently and while the duck breast and celeriac purée with vanilla was beautiful and suggested wine well matched, the accompanying potatoes and salad were very disappointing.

  • Bonnie Powers
    September 19, 2013 5:26pm

    David wish you’d give us some of your faves in Provence!

  • September 19, 2013 5:28pm

    Hall full works for me, too…love to smell the aroma, which is especially important to my serious wine drinking family/friends…who always discuss and then pair it with the food they order or cook.

  • Nick
    September 19, 2013 5:31pm

    I don’t do it myself, but if you buy a class of wine in a cafe or bar*, 99% of the time you get a Paris goblet completly full. Most restayrants now use pretty large glasses, some you couls get maybe 1/2 a bottle in each.
    Until recently if you had wine in a restaurant or bistro, you were buying a fixed volume, a bottle – 75cls – or a 1/4 or 1/2 litre carafe. Everyone knew how much you got for the amount of cash you had shelled out. So the amount in a glass was judged by other criteria.
    It is the look and the smell which comes before the taste. To smell wine properly, it needs swirling, you need to get your nose in and breathe the complexity of aromatics being released. Not so easy in a brimmed glass (and not recommended with most cafe/bar wines).
    To judge the colour and hence maturity and condition plus the character of the grape varieties used in the blend, you need to tilt the glass to peer at the edge. To view the wine from differing angles and against white surfaces and the light.
    Wine is a whole series of sensual experiences. They change and develop as you drink down your glass and down the bottle. To appreciate it fully and get most pleasure and best value for your cash, you need a 1/3 full glass. It costs no more.
    When Riedel started selling their expensive range of glasses, there were many – myself included – who were sceptical. A test is easy to do, and quite emphatically demonstrates the real point of this custom.
    As mentioned, wine is more than getting sloshed. Cheap vodka will do that. If you are thirsty, then drink some water.
    If you are worried that some foreigner is ripping you off, there must by law be a price list on display in each and every bar.

    * bar refers to the more old fashioned type of bar you find all over in France, not the “wine bar” type places. Often comes with a PMU monika.

  • Minnesota Red
    September 19, 2013 5:34pm

    In this land of neverending beer, wine is often served short of half a glass–“the house pour”; pathetic. My husband and friends know that if they’re going to give me wine I get the “Mary pour” which is to the brim. Once I take a few delightful swallows, I then sniff and swirl to my heart’s content!

  • September 19, 2013 5:36pm

    I hate it when I get a glass of wine half full. I don’t think it’s because they want us to catch the aroma as we hold the glass under our noses. I think it’s to save money. Makes me mad when I assume I’m paying for a full glass.

  • September 19, 2013 5:39pm

    David, clearly your cup runneth over in Provence!
    I agree with the frustration of the half-filled glass. Particularly when overly-attentive wait staff keep furtively refilling it – if you’re watching your consumption it becomes very difficult to gauge how much you’ve had. Personally, I think a two-thirds full glass is a good compromise — allows you to sniff, savor and still feel like you’ve had a full glass. Tchin!

    • September 19, 2013 6:30pm
      David Lebovitz

      Pas de tout! I’m not frustrated with half-filled glasses. I like them (and not just because they’re pretty)

  • September 19, 2013 5:58pm

    I guess Champagne and maybe Rose is fine to have a glass-full, but otherwise I prefer my wine to aerate for a bit, and the half glass allows it best.

  • CR
    September 19, 2013 6:15pm

    Years ago a friend opened a cafe, serving wine in very large beautiful wine glasses partially filled. I returned a few months later to wine served in small glasses. I presumed the beautiful glasses did not stand up to the fast paced washing in the kitchen. Mais non …. the owner had received a massive number of complaints about being stingy with the wine. So, he got new glasses [really a little dumpy looking] and filled them to the brim. Result? No more complaints and …. he actually served less wine in each glass … better portion control. He had been more generous with the half glasses.

    • September 19, 2013 6:29pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know if they universally do this in Switzerland, but when I go, they serve the wine in a small carafe with a demarkation on it. Then you can fill your glass as much, or as little, as you’d like.

  • Joanna Ryan
    September 19, 2013 6:41pm

    Gosh, I thought the half full glass was the rule. I am always horrified when I order a glass of wine and it is really full. Sadly, I am a cheap drunk as they say, so a half full glass always does me.

  • Judy Brown
    September 19, 2013 6:47pm

    Friend of a friend rented a house in Provence with a group of people, all from California, sort of a reunion/vacation thing. Upon return, she reported that in a way it was kind of a waste, because the whole thing felt so much like being California!

    I personally disagree with this assessment, though the climate/plants are certainly similar. She must not have gotten away from the rental house enough. I loved Provence, found it exotic and only mildly reminiscent of the more mediterranean parts of California.

    Loved their Rosés so so much. Sunny day, French Rosé, warm goat cheese salad and Provençal fish soup=heaven.

  • September 19, 2013 6:51pm

    man, I just dropped off the kids to school and then I see this beautiful wine glass. God I miss France, I miss the days when dipping into a cafe at 10 and drinking so as not to offend the patron was the thing to do. Now, sadly, a 10 nip of some nice Cote Du Rhone would land me in a twelve step meeting. I love your emails David, the romance, the social commentary, the humor, the window into the French world. Seattle is not so bad….it’s just, I don’t know…So parentally

  • September 19, 2013 7:12pm

    As a German I would argue (and we do like to do that :)) that the little mark on the side of the glass is a great equalizer, because you know you’re getting the same amount everywhere you go and you never have to feel like the bartender jipped you. On the other hand you’ll never know if the bartender likes you, either.
    And the little mark does make it “pas tres joli”.
    I suppose we could all do worse than to go to Provence for our wine!

  • September 19, 2013 7:19pm

    I agree with Emma. the wine is not up to the brim so the wine can be tasted and smelled. I would consider a full glass somewhat rude (especially in a restaurant) : I would feel that I’m considered not subtle enough to enjoy the analysis of my wine before I drink it (or as if I was some kind of booze addict :D). or it would send the message that the quality of what I’m drinking do not matter, as if it would be some cheap wine bag piquette :). very negative !

    I never thought of that but when I’ve read emma’s comment it suddenly made sense :D. before that I was only thinking “uhh, full glasses are awful”, but I couldn’t formulate why. I bet that’s one of those very french instincts just like knowing how to cut some cheeses, instincts that grow on us when living a french life since childhood.

  • September 19, 2013 7:32pm

    It’s funny to read what you tell us here, David. It all depends whether you take un verre or let’s say half a bottle or a bottle – the only thing that changes is the quantity in your glass – many serve 1.15dl, others 1.2 dl and then there are those who just fill a glass (usually the low-cost version, or your mid-morning glass). I have never been offered ice either although sometimes I would have loved to cool down my wine a bit.
    So this is amusing and ‘new’ to me – and also I’ve never ever gotten any shop bought pretzels or salty bits…. in some smaller places you get salted peanuts or some chips or in the better cases said olives (which is – of course – best!!!)
    We must have visited different ‘mondes’ – and I was honestly shocked to see those filled-to-the-brim glasses…. reminded me of my stay in England when one bottle of 7.5dl was neatly filled in the four glasses on the table and never mind whether we could still lift them to our lips or not!! (‘can I bring another one’ – at the same time with a sweet smile….)

    such a refreshing post and – as always – terribly tempting photos…. right now when I have to leave by car – it’s unfair! :)

  • September 19, 2013 7:36pm

    Can I just say how much I enjoy your blog? :) I got turned on to it by my Mama, who loves all things Paris. Thank you for writing and sharing!

  • September 19, 2013 7:39pm

    Just came to think that a ‘ballon’ in Switzerland is a very nearly over-full glass, they serve that wine in a roundish – well ballon-shaped – glass and they are always 1dl – but then we’re so law-abiding that when the law says one deciliter, we drink only 1dl… and not more (ha ha). So yes, you can get full glasses when they are very small and that’s what you probably had en Provence… and a very, very generous waiter!

  • September 19, 2013 8:50pm

    I live in San Francisco and I can’t finish a burrito… That said, we went to our favorite sushi restaurant where they typical overfill the sake boxes. While there, our guest was assured by us, that unlike other cheap places, they always fill it past the brim.

    Well, as luck would have it, the server was new and that didn’t happen. So there’s my conditional lesson for the day.

  • bonnie
    September 19, 2013 9:06pm

    Have to say portions in Paris are getting larger too. Sorry to see that. Having decided that “Doggie Bags” don’t live up to the quality of the food placed fresh on the table we often, here in the States order “for the Table” and then share appetizers and main courses, meaning fewer than the # of people at the table. Waiters no longer frown on this, so I think it is becoming more prevalent.We are pleasantly satisfied at the end of the meal. But,I suppose this is still the exception to the rule when I look around at the size of the majority of Americans.

  • September 19, 2013 9:09pm

    Eh oui. I have gotten used to seeing certain gents taking in their first pastis of the day at the same time I am taking my dogs for their morning walk. Yep, that too is part of Provence and it is what it is! And yet when we have friends over, if I slip up and pour a glass over the half-way mark, it is usually called (with a wink) une verre Americaine…

    • September 20, 2013 8:32am
      David Lebovitz

      Even in Paris, there are usually a few gents at the bar in the wee hours of the morning, having a verre. But it seems to be a lot more prevalent in Provence and when it’s hot out, folks really seem to take to having a mid-morning glass w/ice to get them started. (Or whatever!)

  • September 19, 2013 9:21pm

    I find ice in a glass of wine just a little horrifying, or am I possibly missing one of the points here. I do like to be able to get my nose into a glass though so i can have a good whiff of the wine and coming from NZ to USA I have been flabbergasted at the enormous full to the brim glasses of wine they give me. Wine is usually measured by the ounce not by the size of the glass. i sometimes wonder (being in the midwest) if they just want to get rid of it. The other night i was in a local pub and very foolishly asked for a Baileys. This was presented to me in a tumbler full to the brim,no ice, no milk.Very gamely, not wanting to be rude, as i am the Foreigner and being rude is unforgiveable in a foreigner, I drunk the whole thing and a merry old time was had by all! have a wonderful day.. c

  • Greg S.
    September 19, 2013 9:23pm

    I think you need to take a look at the drink menu. Sometimes, cheaper “open” wines are sold by the 0.25 Liters, “le quart”. If you pour that amount into the glasses pictured, it probably fills it to the rim. Often in France, the wine glasses at simple cafes and bistros barely hold 0.2 liters. Take a full-sized tulip and pour the wine pictured above into the tulip, and you should still have plenty of room to swirl.

    It is true that in Germany the hash marks show you where the legal minimum is, but in many simpler locales, the cheapest wine is poured generously over the hash mark, especially if you are eating and on your second or third glass. If you order a bottle, the wait staff, assuming they bother to re-fill your glass, almost always pour smaller amounts each time.

    At home, I always pour smaller amounts and then return the bottle to the cooler to keep it at the right temperature. I hate it when my wine gets warm in the glass.

  • Gunny
    September 19, 2013 9:29pm

    When I was still fresh in US, my husband took me out for a dinner in some Japanese grill place – one of those where people sit around and watch a cook prepare the meal. All was nice – grilled shrimp, small bits of meat and vegetables, small bowls for dipping sauce until… the cook warmed up and slopped on our plates this gigantic pile of rice spilling it over on the table. I felt like I am treated as a pig given a bucket of food. If you want to insult somebody serving food then that is the way to do that.
    Or am I just too European to get it?

  • Kristin Oblander
    September 19, 2013 9:37pm

    We were just in Paris and the Cote d’Azure for two weeks…ordering a bottle of wine instead of a glass helps with this problem every time…pas de problème!

  • September 19, 2013 10:20pm

    Mmm I will have a glass of that rose right now, it’s been a long day!

  • September 19, 2013 10:33pm

    Happy t empty the glass for you!

  • Mario
    September 19, 2013 10:49pm

    One of my pet peeves in U.S. restaurants is to order a bottle of wine and then have the server pour the wine and fill my glass to the rim.

    I have a fond memory of ordering half a bottle of wine for lunch at a restaurant in Pezenas, France. The waiter filled my glass only a quarter full each time and effectively made that half bottle of wine last from appetizer through the end of the main course.

  • jess sremmal
    September 19, 2013 11:29pm

    On the other hand, the French also can’t stand an empty glass either and will continue to top you up well beyond your limits. The easiest way to not be served more wine hereIis to stop drinking somewhere between half empty and empty.

  • Michael
    September 19, 2013 11:48pm

    With the notable exception of the champagne flute, no wine glass should ever be filled anywhere near the rim. One of the key elements of wine is its aroma, and that aroma cannot be enjoyed in a full glass. For this reason proper wine glasses are designed to hold a standard pour within the lower bowl. Give or take, the wine should come just up to the point where the bowl is narrowing, and no more. This is especially important (in my opinion) for reds.

    This is why wine glasses for red wine tend to be larger. In fact Riedel makes a series of glasses for Pinot Noir that are so large they can each hold an entire bottle of wine. So a standard pour might look a little silly in them, but the size is intentional.

    When a restaurant or cafe gives you this type of pour, it doesn’t mean that they are trying to save money, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are cheating you. It means that they know what they are doing. A server who fills your wine glass past that narrowing bowl (even if you have purchased a full bottle) is incompetent, and I’m sorry but a cafe who puts ice in wine shouldn’t even be allowed to serve wine. Wow.

  • Julie Dufaj
    September 19, 2013 11:56pm

    Interesting because when we were in Provence 12 years ago, we felt we could not eat as much as the French people! I recall one dinner out when we noticed that the couple at the next table were having pizza after their appetizer, We assumed that the pizza was their main dish, but no, it was followed by a full entree and dessert! We found that to be the rule rather than the exception, which caused us to marvel all the more at the trim waistlines.

    • September 20, 2013 8:30am
      David Lebovitz

      I always find it interesting that folks from the US come to France and get full quickly, whereas the portions are smaller (although the food may be richer?) in France. Waistlines have been steadily expanding in France, however, so all that eating it catching up on ’em!

  • Eli
    September 20, 2013 12:50am

    Am I the only person who doesn’t like olives and always get offered them in Paris?? (My Provencal friend who lives in Paris likes having an apero with me – more olives for her!).

    Perhaps it is because I spent many years on trips to Spain and still prefer to tapas!

    Only place I can eat more than one course is Chartiers – main, cheese and desert!

  • Renee H
    September 20, 2013 2:02am

    I have a naive question, would someone please explain why the French add ice to a glass of wine? I like my whites and Roses chilled, but not overly so, and ! In my opinion, the ice will dilute the flavor of the wine.

  • September 20, 2013 2:41am

    I thought the standard when pouring a wine was to fill to the fattest part of the glass. That way it allows the wine to be appreciated (smell etc). Here in Australia most places (even fine dining restaurants now) have the fill mark on the glass. I guess then people cant complain if everyone gets the same pour, as lets face it some of those glasses are pretty big and 125mls do look tiny in them!

  • Juli
    September 20, 2013 6:47am

    The “C” Minus (Chardonnay on the rocks) is my favorite drink. I feel so validated reading that it’s the preferred serving in Provence. Thank you, David!

  • Karti Inamdar
    September 20, 2013 8:35am

    I always put a cube or two of ice in my white wine – have done so for years. Fellow drinkers have scoffed at this practice, but I feel vindicated now!

  • Miriam
    September 20, 2013 8:46am

    And here I thought they were bringing that ice because I’m American. Can’t wait to tell the French husband that it’s all the rage and he should get used to it. I’ve done it at home for years, but now suddenly it’s happening in cafes – we live in Provence so I don’t know if it also happens elsewhere.

  • Parisbreakfast
    September 20, 2013 9:06am

    OK now I get it!
    Recently eating lunch in Giverny, the Frenchman sitting next to me got a big bowl of ice for his glass of Rosé that none of the rest of us got – it was steamy hot day…
    I asked about the ice?
    “I’m from Provence” he said.
    Lucky for me he was willing to share.

  • PT
    September 20, 2013 11:36am

    How very strange to put ice in wine.

    In Portugal we can put ice in a cola, juice, whisky, but never in wine or beer.

    Watery wine? No thank you.

    Wine bottles should go to the fridge so that they are the right temperature.

  • September 20, 2013 7:56pm

    Like Lucille Alice and others said, the not filled to the top glass is there to let you enjoy the smell and let you turn the wine in the glass to enjoy the full aroma of it. As a French, it might be one of the only things that puzzles me in the US, how the hell are we suppose to enjoy a good wine without having the opportunity to smell it correctly?
    I’m a little bit surprised by that post, from someone leaving in France and having tasted very good wines in very good places…

  • Lisa Blackard
    September 21, 2013 6:36am

    I feel the same about a “three second pour” as a I do about Pinot Noir: I just want to slap it and tell it to man up.

  • Adi Kahan
    September 21, 2013 7:28am

    Full glass may mean the bought quantity.
    I prefer that a good quality drink (wine, cognac, whisky ec.) is left with a lot of space to breathe in the glass. If low quality drink is concerned, by all means, fill it to the rim, load it with ice cubes, add some Coca Cola, lemon etc. if you so wish.

  • September 21, 2013 8:03am

    David, I wanted to tell you we had a wonderful fondue last night at Café du Grutli in Lausanne. Thanks for the recommendation some time back. We came to Lausanne because my father was born here and I have never really spent any time here. The owner told me my father would have known Café du Grutli since it dates to 1849.

  • Alessnadra
    September 21, 2013 11:48am

    Reminds me of the joke:
    -Have you eaten at such and such restaurant? The food is awful
    -Yes, and such small portions too!

  • Dina
    September 21, 2013 9:45pm

    No, David, it’s the McDo catching up with them :(

    And I don’t see the glass half-full as a French thing or any other thing. I was taught that it was de rigueur/classy/cultured/well-mannered to fill the glass half way. Anything else and it means you don’t know about the subtleties of haute dining and wine… And I am not a snob. A super full glass irks me because then I can’t lift it without sloshing my wine out and have to slurp. Now if you’re sitting at the dinner table, with cutlery and wine glasses and all that jazz, is it really polite to slurp?! Wine of all things?! Therefore, glass half-full :)

  • Judy
    September 21, 2013 9:47pm

    Maybe the glass is half full. I like a restaurant to be emptyish. Less noise.

  • Joy Fielder
    September 22, 2013 2:08am

    David – always enjoy your Blog…thanks!

    I am in need of an after-dinner mint recipe…..I’m off to a dinner party being held for approx. 50 guests….I notice that you have such a recipe in your book Perfect Scoop , but the party is next week & we live a long way from a bookstore …yikes!! Can you help out here in the meantime…please?

    joy

  • Jennifer
    September 22, 2013 5:34pm

    Full-to-the-brim glasses of anything are a beast to carry on a tray, and drinks without ice are particularly tricky. Martini glasses are the worst.

  • ault
    September 22, 2013 11:12pm

    From the old jokes home…

    A: Barman, do you think you could fit a shot of whisky into this beer?
    B: I should think so, sir.
    A: Then why didn’t you fill it the £$€* up in the first place?

  • Corrie
    September 23, 2013 12:16am

    I am lucky enough to have an 87 year old adopted French grandmother. I lived with her in Paris (she split her time between there and Provence, actually) while studying there years ago, and we’ve remained very close. I expressed an interest in learning French table customs, and she’s been teaching me ever since. During one meal, I went to fill her glass and she stopped me as I passed the half way mark. I would have stopped at about three quarters full, but she said that half way is best because it should be seen as a pleasure to fill a guest’s glass throughout the meal, and see to their needs. So, when it happens in a French home, it’s because you have a gracious host or hostess.

  • dotti cahill
    September 27, 2013 4:57am

    nice there is ice now in france i usually have to beg for some for my water ..

  • rafter_b
    September 28, 2013 3:06am

    I would ask for the ‘big girl’ glass.