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!