A French Wine Cellar

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I never got into the French wine culture, and this lack of taste for the beverage of the gods makes me an oddity in my home country. When I decline a glass of wine, a beer or an apéritif, some people suspect I’m pregnant while others wonder if I’m hiding a dark past as an alcoholic. The truth is, I simply don’t like the taste of most alcoholic beverages. I tried many of them from my late teens to my late twenties and I’ve never found anything I enjoyed drinking. I can’t stand the taste and the smell of beer, I don’t appreciate wine, I find most other alcoholic beverages too sweet or too strong. The one and only exception is probably cider. I can drink du cidre… an innocuous beverage most kids under ten in Brittany pretty much drink for breakfast. Ah.

In my teens, everybody around me was drinking, sometimes just to get drunk, sometimes to enhance a meal. Most French kids “learn to drink” with their parents—it is seen as a useful life skill in a wine-producing country. But my mum doesn’t drink at all (also a matter of taste) and my dad rarely drinks as well, although he does enjoy it. As a result, my education is lacking in this area. I survived just fine, though.

Sometimes, I wonder if, eventually, I would have developed a taste for wine and alcohol if I had stayed in France. Maybe. But in Canada, wine is expensive and fairly hard to find since you have to buy it at LCBOs. I feel that across the pond, drinking is still seen as a sinful activity like during Prohibition. I’m sure many people do drink, but they do so at home, behind closed doors.

Today we visited my paternal grand-parents, who live in the heart of Nantes’ wine region. They like to drink, they like to collect vintage wines, they enjoy showing off their wine cellar. They also found it hilarious that I started taking pictures… but to me, this way of life is exotic!

Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Vineyards in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Vineyards in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Vineyards in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Vineyards in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

My paternal grand-father's wine cellar

My paternal grand-father’s wine cellar

My paternal grand-father's wine cellar

My paternal grand-father’s wine cellar

My paternal grand-father's wine cellar

My paternal grand-father’s wine cellar

Homemade eau-de-vie (50-degree alcohol)

Homemade eau-de-vie (50-degree alcohol)

My paternal grand-father's wine cellar

My paternal grand-father’s wine cellar

My paternal grand-father's wine cellar

My paternal grand-father’s wine cellar

My paternal grand-father's wine cellar

My paternal grand-father’s wine cellar

My paternal grand-father's wine cellar

My paternal grand-father’s wine cellar

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

10 Comments

  1. I’m not a big drinker either but I do love a good glass of wine.
    There seem to be a big beer culture here, I don’t know if it’s maybe a West Canada thing?
    And of course in Scotland I was the exception 😉
    My granddad used to make wine and his own liqueur! But we never really drank at home, only at Xmas

  2. That is crazy French! To have a wine cellar! I almost bought a bottle of wine for every week of pregnancy so that I could have a bunch of wine bottles. Now that we have moved to St Catharines we are slap bang in the middle of wine district – I can’t wait to do a few tours!!

  3. I’m the same, I don’t really appreciate the taste of alcohol, except cider. And luckily in Brittany we have plenty of cider. My husband learns to appreciate wine from his dad, and he is working on his wine cellar, soon we will start stocking up wines.

    • It’s funny that most people who aren’t into drinking enjoy cider. It’s just an “easy” drink, I guess, regardless of the actual alcohol content.

  4. I admire these things we drink (as I write I have a big mug of freshly brewed coffee; although is it fresh coffee, I am quite sure not. I met a guy who is a coffee fanatic; he roasts his own coffee and he introduced me to a place in Ottawa where they freshly brew “fresh” coffee :), I guess you would have been there already, Ideal Coffee, nice lovely place, coffee was good too) why am I ranting about coffee when wine is the subject; well things that we drink, I am just a big drinker, I like all sorts of drinks 🙂

    So, wine is good; some wines taste good some don’t. I like the access I have to wines here, in India wine is not the drink of commons, so it is really difficult to find wine in many places, however west India has vineyards and wine is more available; Mumbai is in west India (I am from the North). The wines I tried in Mumbai were mostly full body; but wines are generally expensive in India. Beer is more common and many of us love Rum. I love the taste of good Rum, even my wife who never liked the taste of any alcoholic beverage couldn’t stop complementing how good Ron Zacapa was (and it was one of the finest drinks I had had). However I like wine in a special way; the way it washes over your palate during a meal, it is just amazing. I could go on 🙂

    • What is that place in Ottawa with freshly-brewed coffee?

      Call me ignorant once again, I had no idea there were vineyards in India…! Now that would be a wine I’d love to try, just because it’s exotic to my eyes 🙂

      I just noticed yesterday that beer is now sold at Loblaws in Ontario (and presumably other supermarkets too…?). What a change! I thought I was hallucinating yesterday when I saw the beer aisle 😆

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