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Do French people drink foreign wines?

  • Monica Oct 28, 2010 06:46 AM
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I've to Paris and South of France but I don't remember seeing any California wines or New Zealand wines. Is there a market for foreign wines in France? Just got me curious.
I assume California wines are too expensive to import especially when their own wines are so cheap.

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  1. i used to know some French expats who only drink French wines. only French wines, really.

    i notice the same thing in countries that have a beer/wine culture and cuisine. and why not? it's cheap(er) and comes from nearby.

    1. Supermarkets have a small selection of foreign wines and wine stores have a large selection. We just moved to NYC from Paris.

      However, I personally don't remember seeing very many foreign wines in France in stores and on restaurant menus but I also didn't pay very much attention (I don't drink very much wine).

      There must be a market for foreign wines, but I do recall that when we were out with French friends, French wine (esp. St. Emilion or other Bordeaux) was always ordered. My husband's family also served exclusively French champagnes and wines at family meals and gatherings. I think many French prefer French wines over foreign wines because they're used to the taste (and possibly think they're better quality, too).

      2 Replies
      1. re: FrançaisAméricaine

        I remember seeing some German riesling and maybe some italian wines but nothing from other parts of the World.
        I do agree that Bordeaux wines are the best. So velvety..smooth...yumm..

        1. re: FrançaisAméricaine

          Based on the US wines that I have seen, and the obscene markups (including tariffs), I could find no reason to explore any Imported wines here, and especially "imported" from the US. I would stick with FR, though I love my country, and its wines.They are better, than what one will find int the UK, or Europe, and the prices are MUCH better for FR wines.

          One would have to be foolish, or deranged, to go with an inferior US wine, that likely costs 8x what a good FR wine does.

          I either sneak the "good stuff" in, or treat my UK/Euro friends, when they visit me. A much better proposition, IMHO.

          Hunt

        2. France is one of the biggest markets for Port wines from Portugal. Largely inexpensive Tawnies, iirc.

          1. I would hope they drink good German Rieslings along wtih Port. Also Barolo and better US producers should be available. I don't get those any where that just drink a specific region as there is good wine from the major areas of the world.

            1. Willi's Wine Bar and Juvenile's in Paris are the only two places I know there where you can buy wines from the other hemisphere. I'm sure there must be others, but not too many.

              I don't think too many Italians drink wines that don't come from there, either.

              1. As French cars like the Citroen C6 cost @ 50,000 Euros while an equivalent Audi A6 costs @ 80,000 Euros, there are similar price differences between most French goods and foreign ones. Whether it be Italian cheeses or German wines, the price differential due to taxation is very dramatic. Saw a bottle of Turley Petite Syrah in a Paris wine shop for 175 Euros. Yes you can find foreign wine, in supermarkets, restaurants, and wine stores, but they will generally be far more expensive than their french counterpart. Thus while drunk, it seems not to the same extent as here in the states. Recently was at three Parisian parties where 50-60 people combined brought a total of 70-90 wines. None were anything other than French.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  At least in this case, one IS talking about a good US wine, and if from the Hayne Vineyard, at a somewhat "fair" price. Larry Turley is a very good wine maker, though even in the US, most are not "cheap." Still, "back home," they are good wines.

                  OTOH, if in FR, I would not be looking to US wines, but to the wines of FR, as we will never get everything imported into the US. What better opportunity to explore even more FR wines?

                  Hunt

                2. A couple of French immigrant friends of mine usually lug bottles of appealing non-French wines with them when they go home for visits. Classic wines from Tuscany and Piedmont, the occasional Zinfandel, Canadian ice wines and ice ciders, non-French "natural" wines (e.g. Occhipinti). One also takes back bottles of French wines that are relatively easy to get here in Quebec but next to impossible to buy in France (e.g. Mas Julien).

                  A few cavistes, mainly in the big cities, carry foreign wines but the selection is small. For example, the website for Lavinia in Paris -- www.lavinia.fr -- currently lists only 395 non-French products: 90 from Spain (including sherries), 61 from Italy, 30 from Portugal (including port), 70 from other European countries, 81 from the USA, 12 from elsewhere in the Americas, 40 from Oceania and 11 from elsewhere in the world (mainly South Africa and the Middle East).

                  Why? Tradition. Familiarity. Cost. An entrenched distribution system. Nationalism. Unawareness of the riches beyond the borders. The variety and general high quality of French wines. The fact that most of the wines are drunk with French food, for which they are generally the best match.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: carswell

                    Lavinia lists Turley Hayne Zin 1995 at 385 Euro. Perhaps they would buy mine.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Ah, the Turley Hayne. Great wine. I would drink it, rather than ship/sell it.

                      If you can ever find the Turley "101" Zinfandel - buy it and drink it with only your best friends.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Have about 6 bottles left. l am a fan of Hayne and Grist

                  2. Yes, French people drink foreign wines. According to this very recent study, 25% of wine drinkers say they drink foreign wines.
                    http://www.ipsos.fr/InsideIpsos/conte...

                    To give you some idea of the market, according to this site, 10 years ago France was producing 56.9 million hectoliters of wine a year, 15.6Mhl of which was exported. 5.5Mhl was imported from other countries, primarily Italy, Spain, and Portugal. So that represents about 12% of wines consumed in France.
                    http://www.oenologie.fr/importation-d...

                    But it is important to know that the vast majority of this wine (up to 80%) is vin de table. On this page, you can see a breakdown of wines according to price, and foreign wines are significantly represented only in the bottom two rows (wines costing 1.5 euros/liter or less).
                    http://www.viti-net.com/article-25-25...

                    Once you remove that category, which is probably not even on the radar for most Chowhounds, it looks like only 2-3% of more expensive and/or higher quality wine consumed in France is not French. Keep in mind that these numbers are not recent. I can tell you, anecdotally, that foreign wines are easy to find in supermarkets (I would say they occupy 5-10% of shelf space), and of course in non-French restaurants.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                      " 5.5Mhl was imported from other countries, primarily Italy, Spain, and Portugal. So that represents about 12% of wines consumed in France."

                      Not necessarily consumed in France. Wine shipped in bulk from other countried is bottled in France and exported to UK , Ireland and maybe other countries. Also a lot of New World wine exported to France was destined for the channel port booze cruise shops.

                    2. I am sure a lot of French have drank other european wines but I bet a lot of them have never tasted ..say, a californian pinot noir or Australian syraz.

                      1. Also the relationship with wine in traditional wine growing nations (i.e. Italy, France) is not as much one of connoisseurship like say in Great Britain or America; where we desire more access to the great wines of the world as almost a hobby rather than it being something integral to our culture.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chinon00

                          I think this one is the key response.

                          Why would you pay 15-20 Euros for a bottle of something imported (even Gallo wines are close to 10E per bottle here) when you can have something wonderful and locally produced for half to 2/3 of that? For a special occasion, it's great, but for day-to-day, you just can't justify the difference in cost.

                          Loads of French folk I know are interested to try California-Argentina-Australia wines...but they're unsure of the quality, which makes paying a price premium pretty off-putting.

                        2. As with all things, it depends upon where you are . . . in Paris, it's much easier to find, say, California wines than it would be in the town of St.-Emilion. Of course this depends upon the store/restaurant, too.

                          Then again, it's not the easiest thing to find a wine from the Loire Valley on an average wine list/average wine store in the Rhône, let alone a wine from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, or Chile . . . .

                          Cheers,
                          Jason

                          1. our tour guide to Normandy, who is from Champagne and lives in Paris, scoffed at the idea of buying some Calvados. Apparently to him anything outside of say Champagne, Bourdeaux, Burgundy was "foreign" and not worth considering.
                            I did have some terrific Corsican roses while in Paris.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: ibstatguy

                              then his ego is getting the better of him. Most French I know clamor to buy the specialties of the regions, including Calvados.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                the ego of the Champenois...

                                1. re: ibstatguy

                                  Not specifically them -- you see a few in every region.

                            2. Rule of thumb:
                              Wine consumers in societies where wine is ingrained ( France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, ... ) will very seldom look for or even pay any attention to imports.
                              Wine consumers in societies where wine is an acquired taste ( US, Japan, China, ...) will be fairly aware of what's going on in the rest of the (wine) world.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: RicRios

                                Agreed.

                              2. I'm involved with other wine discussion boards and people who live there explain that wine stores in say the Burgundy or Bordeaux areas don't even carry wines from Alsace or the Rhone. I've never been to France but it's said to be quite provincial.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: SteveTimko

                                  This is not true. Yes, there are shops that specialize in local wines, and of course in a small village or a place that caters to tourism with a regional flavor, the choice will be limited. But in Bordeaux, for example, it is not at all difficult to find wines from other parts of France or other countries. You may not find every particular wine you want, but it's not the case that stores don't carry non-Bordeaux wines.

                                  On the other hand, people in Bordeaux do indeed drink mostly Bordeaux, so I guess they are quite provincial.

                                  1. re: SteveTimko

                                    Not true. French regional/provincial wine stores carry wines from other regions, but to a limited extent. Even French regional supermarkets have wines from all over France.

                                  2. I think the short answer to Monica's question is "No." While there may be some offered in various places, France produces such a wide variety of excellent wines themselves, and at such varied price points, they have little incentive to look elsewhere. And with the economy being what it is, I'd think that, like most Americans, they'd like to keep their business at home.

                                    1. I grew up in France, live in CA, and return to France regularly.
                                      It is possible to find CA wines in Paris, but given the economics of shipping
                                      wine, there are always better French wines at the same price point. The same
                                      holds for Australian and New Zealand wines. The French are well aware that
                                      some German, Italian and Spanish wines are excellent. The main issue is
                                      that for the French wine and food form a pair, and for most dishes they tend
                                      to go with the conventional French pairing. Unlike in the US where most
                                      families eat a variety of foods, the French rarely eat non-French dishes
                                      (maybe a paella here and there, pasta, osso bucco, Italian veal recipes),
                                      but the norm is French food and thus it means French wines. Cooking
                                      is also very regional, so in most regions, people go with the drinks of
                                      the region. For example in Normandy, the go to drink is hard cider,
                                      with Calvados after dinner.

                                      As Melanie Wong pointed out, there are certain wines and spirits
                                      for which French always go with non-French drinks: port from
                                      Portugal, and Scotch Whisky are two of the standards that
                                      will almost always be offered to you before dinner.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: bclevy

                                        Are there any French versions of port or whisky?

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          Pineau des Charentes is a fortified wine which could be considered as
                                          a French substite for port (remember that the French drink port as an
                                          aperitif, ie. before dinner drink). However, it is fair to say port has
                                          more depth and finesse than pineau. I cannot think of any french drink
                                          that could possibly viewed as similar to whisky. Of course depending
                                          on regions of France, other before dinner drinks are common such
                                          as pastis (the French version of Ouzo) in the South of France, or Kir
                                          in Paris, Burgundy or central France.

                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            Maybe a sweet style Banyuls or Maury, though both will be a few degrees lower in alcohol than Port.

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              The comment "there are certain wines and spirits for which French always go with non-French drinks . . ." implied to me that there are relatively common alternatives in French wine and spirits for scotch and port which I wasn't aware of; although I did use Banyuls for cooking years ago.

                                          2. re: bclevy

                                            sure makes it easy to choose pairings, though -- whatever region your recipe is from, serve a wine (or cider) from that region -- chances are it's a great pairing.

                                          3. Just came accros the topic and as an aussie based in Paris importing wines from 'the new world' to France, I thought that I'd add my experience.
                                            Yes France produces some terrific wines at very affordable prices (and definately vice versa!). Yes it is a challenge selling to retailers and restaurants here given the massive offer of local wines - yes patriotism , ignorance and a lack of availabilty of foreign wines, means that for the average french person it is difficult for them to have a basis of comparison. However when they taste a barossa shiraz made from 90+ year old vines or an argentinian torrontes or a marlborough sauv blanc they are astounded at the quality (I try to work with good producers) and the diversity on offer. This is especially the case when they have the opportunity to travel overseas and taste the local production and then look for it once back in France - this is especially so for sommeliers and other wine trade who have worked in the US or UK (or elsewhere) to show their future clients what is happening elsewhere.

                                            Regarding Californian wines the prices are high although I saw that Mondavi's entry level retails for around 7-8€ on the shelf...the range that we carry is higher, mainly around 20€, but given that the US market for US wines is so important the pricing that wholesalers in Europe/France obtain is not always that competitive - hence the higher prices...that being said, California has a great reputation here and we are seeing our sales increase year on year...à suivre!

                                            For those in France looking for gifts for French guests, or ex pats that are looking for something from home, I can recommend a number of establishments that promote foreign wines: Paris - Juveniles Wine Bar, Le Tastemonde, Lavinia, La Grande Epicerie, Charbon Rouge (great meat restaurant), George V, Lasserre, Taillevent if you are looking at splurging on dinner...we also have a shop in the 14th called Comptoir des Andes & du Nouveau Monde - 19 rue Delambre where we propose over 200 references from the new world); Lyon - Antic Wines; Grenoble - Micand Coté Rue (foreign wine + champagne); Bordeaux - Badie, Le Winery....plus loads more (including any themed country restaurant - ex. Argentina, US, etc...where it is a necessity to have wines from the country in question).

                                            All in all, France will never be a volume market for good quality non french wines, but there is a growing interest in these wines - the 'old world' is also attracting interest with great wines from Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria etc becoming more and more seen and appreciated.

                                            So cheers or santé!

                                            1. Unfortunately, FR, as well as the UK, do not often get to experience really good US wines, unless they travel to the US. The prices of most US wines are between 3x and 8x, what we pay in the US, even with the monetary conversion rate.

                                              I can easily understand why many in Europe/UK question US wines - they never get to taste any good stuff, and when they do, it cost so very much more.

                                              I often sneak half-bottles of Robert Biale Black Chicken Zinfandels, when going to the UK. Most UK residents on my boards, just love it, and comment that they have never tasted a US wine, even close to that. I understand, as I work with many UK wine lists, and would almost never to to a US wine there. Same for France.

                                              In most instances, I will go with FR wines, and never look back. They are much better values, are more readily available, and just better "deals" all the way around. Why on Earth would one purchase a bottle of Robert Mondavi Woodbridge (US $ 25) for £ 125?

                                              Now, in both the UK and FR, we often see some great GR wines,and the prices are fair, though the selections a bit limited. Still, they are priced better, than US wines.

                                              In the UK, the OZ wines seem to be popular, but even there, the wines offered are very low-end, and not inexpensive, even by London prices.

                                              I would charge the tariffs, other trade practices, shipping, and then the distributors, as the culprits here.

                                              I do not fault the folk in the UK, or Europe. How can they compare a 5er Bdx. with Mondavi Woodbridge, at the same price-point? I know that I cannot.

                                              There are many elements at play here, and I have no answer for how to rectify it. When our UK and Euro friends visit, the common comment is "Holy S***t! I had no idea that the US produced such wines!" I agree, if based on our trips to the UK and to Europe. I mean who knew?

                                              Hunt

                                              37 Replies
                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                Slightly off topic, but I find this same problem/attitude is true in the Mid-West/Eastern US these days towards west coast wines. For whatever reason, California wine (and Oregon to some extent) is getting extremely expensive, plus, the demand within California and Oregon and through the wine lists, seems satisfactory enough for many wineries. As a result, many wine appreciators seem to have a very low/uneven opinion of California wines due to lack of availability and high prices.

                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  I agree, Bill -- and I find most of our Europe-born friends are very open to trying, and very curious about, California wines. Zinfandel, in particular (not white zin...) seems to generate a lot of curiousity and interest.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    I also find an openness to trying, and usually an appreciation for, US wines in Europe/UK. The availability, and the high prices for some very mundane products are a major deterrent. I feel the same way, when faced with the prospect of drinking Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve at £ 70, or one of many very good FR wines, at the same price, it would be no contest. It’s the same in Rome too.

                                                    We are fortunate to host about 6 board dinners per year in London. Many of the board members ask why I do not choose US wines, to show off what is being done in the US. My answer is always the same - the wine lists are limited in US wines, and none is something that I would pour, and be proud of (lately, there have been a few exceptions to that, but still at very high prices), and I have a duty to pour the best wines for the £. To do that, I am mostly going with FR, or IT, or maybe GR. Other than the few .375's that I secret into the UK, I have found very few US wines, that I would really enjoy.

                                                    Now, and with that said, about 60% of my cellar is US, with FR next, probably Portugal (Port), then GR, then IT and ES, with OZ bringing up the rear. I am a fan of many US wines, but do not find many of those abroad, and when I do, the prices are astronomical. Plus, there are so many very good FR wines, that do not see import into the US, or at least not to AZ.

                                                    I just reflected upon a recent trip to a little resort, with a monster wine cellar. We were there 8 nights, and if you omit the wines for an event, that we attended (Portugal), our consumption was about 50% FR, 30% US, then the remainder split between ES, and PT (Madeira, and not part of the wine event), and then PT (Vintage Port, and not part of the wine event). Did not have any course, that called for a wine from IT, but I would not have hesitated. Every major wine country is represented by that resort’s cellar.

                                                    Heck, even the wines from OZ, that I encounter in Europe/UK are of mediocre variety, and priced at a much higher level.

                                                    I personally think that many Euro/UK residents would enjoy US wines, if they were good ones, and priced fairly. Some would probably jingoistic, but that was fairly common in the US, not that long ago - can you remember “freedom fries?” Still, wine lovers seem universal - they care far more about the wine in their glass, than the place of origin. I know that I am. Only the ability to order a great wine again, would even prompt me to record the country, if I was tasting blind.

                                                    Just some random wine observations,

                                                    Hunt

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      Sunshine -- spot on! Zinfandel -- that is to say (and to be redundant), "Red" Zinfadnel -- is the wine I typically bring with me when visiting friends in France . . . as well as other European wine producing countries. Not only, as you quite rightly say, does it "generate a lot of curiousity and interest," but it's also received with (for lack of a better term) "an open palate." That is, there are no comparisons (and perhaps preconceptions) between the CA Cabernet and Bordeaux, the Pinot Noir and Burgundy, etc., etc.

                                                      Indeed, I'm writing this from Lisbon, and I've brought four bottles of Zinfandel with me to give to my winemaking friends up in the Douro when I get there tomorrow . . .

                                                      Cheers,
                                                      Jason

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        Jason,

                                                        That "comparison," or lack thereof, concept is a good one, and I understand it.

                                                        I see things on both sides, where a US wine drinker, brought up on good Cal-Cab and Bdx-blend wines, might have to work a bit, to really appreciate a Bdx.

                                                        Same for a FR wine drinker, brought up on Bdx, and presented with some US versions.

                                                        Thing go double for PN vs Burgundy, and almost so for Cal-Chards vs white Burgs.

                                                        OTOH, Zins are Zins, and that is what I sneak past Customs for my friends.

                                                        I DO see the need, in some circles to type "Red Zinfandel," though probably not here. Still, I see that differentiation on some upper-middle and higher-end wine lists - just so that some of their clients are not shocked, should they order the wrong "Zinfandel." Heck, there was a long thread here, right in River City, where many argued that White Zinfandel belonged on all wine lists, and to not have it available was horrible.

                                                        Hunt

                                                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Is there some government protection that French wine makers enjoy that allow them to export higher end wines, or any wine cheaper than they sell at home?

                                                      1. re: budnball

                                                        Not that I am aware of . . .

                                                        1. re: budnball

                                                          I am also unaware of any such protectionism, but then there are some fairly stiff import tariffs for US wines (and probably others) in Europe/UK.

                                                          Not sure if Jason has ever worked in that direction, but perhaps he, or others can fill us in on those. I'm just a wino, and have never been in the business - though I do grovel for invitations to many "trade-tastings," and end up on a few judging panels (that accept winos).

                                                          Hunt

                                                          1. re: budnball

                                                            transportation costs are astronomical, even if import duties never enter the picture. It's not uncommon for transportation costs to run 25-30% of the selling price of the product. Add to that special label requirements (you'd be stunned to know how much it costs to write, produce, and apply even a plain black-and-white adhesive label).

                                                            They usually export the higher-end wines because the markups involved in transportation (with the necessary allowances make for breakage and bad handling) make it unfeasible to sell the lower-end wines at a price that's even remotely competitive.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              As someone who lives in California, I see French wines at every price point in the local wine shops. At places like K&L it may be over 50%. It can't be anymore to send wine east as it does west, so the transportation cost seem like a push. Do you get more for €40 in France than you would get for $55-60 in the US? Is French wine just cheaper at all levels?

                                                              1. re: budnball

                                                                Unequivocally, yes. You can buy far better wine in France for US$10 (about €7 at current rates) than you could ever hope to buy in the US for the same coin. (there are, like all generalizations, exceptions...but we're talking in general)

                                                                So grocery-store Gallo that you'd spend $10-12 for ends up being €20-25 in France -- and that will buy you a really exception bottle -- even at the grocery store.

                                                                Several years ago, we set out for a giggle to see how cheap we could buy a bottle of drinkable wine. Our only rule was that it had to be in a glass bottle (we opted to exclude bag-in-a-box, plastic bottles, and tetrapaks)

                                                                The lowest price point at which you could fairly predictably drink the liquid inside was about €2 -- just under $3 -- and they were all better than Two-Buck Chuck.

                                                                We found quite a few at €1.50 (about $2) that were drinkable, but there was some pretty nasty plonk there, too.

                                                                At €1 we're talking Mad Dog and Thunderbird....but you'd spend more than $1.25 on a bottle of MD 20/20 or Thunderbird.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  And doesn't for example the Languedoc region produce more wine annually than the entire state of California? There's more on the market.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Hey, I usually pay $ 1.25 for my MD, but it does come in a brown paper bag, that I use to "insulate" it, as I sit on the corner of Camp and Julia, in NOLA, sipping - who needs a stinking Riedel!?!?!?

                                                                    Hunt

                                                                    PS - while we have done "slammer Chard" tastings in the US (once a pre-Summer activity, to find the cheap "house" Chard for the Summer), I have never done a Euro version of that. I am just so glad to see some mid, and upper-level FR wines, at prices that I can afford, that I never do the tests - I just drink some really good wines, at fair prices. Now, London is not quite the same, as it IS expensive, and the wines do show that. I just pretend that those little £'s are $'s, and enjoy. I let AMEX sort it out, a month later.

                                                                    Hunt

                                                                  2. re: budnball

                                                                    There is a reciprocity of economy when Importing/Exporting across an ocean, BUT when you see the costs of a certain FR wine in the US, for 30% more, than in FR, but a US wine at 200% more in the UK/Europe, you will get an idea of the tariffs charged. Yes, transportation costs are very similar, both ways, BUT tariffs are not.

                                                                    One needs to track the same exact wines, in the US, and in the UK/Europe, to see the real differences. General FR wines in the US are not telling you the entire story.

                                                                    Hunt

                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      Why would Yellowtail wines be sold at close to the same price in England and the US? On my last trip over in 2010, the only wine I recognized was Yellowtail and they seemed to in most grocery stores, and off-license stores. I guess tariffs are variable.

                                                                      1. re: budnball

                                                                        I have only tasted Yellow Tail wines in the US, and certainly would not order any in London. I am not a fan, but then they may have some (that I have not tasted), that are worthy. I just do not know, and have not found such?

                                                                        Sorry that I cannot help you there.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          nor would I. when in England, I drink stout and scotch. Wine can wait 'till I get home.

                                                                          1. re: budnball

                                                                            "Wine can wait 'till I get home."

                                                                            Why? Lots of great wine in England.

                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                              I agree. Though I have yet to find any English wines, that I really enjoy (same for Chinese wines), there are some great wines, almost everywhere. One just has to look a bit, and if in London, be ready to pay the tab.

                                                                              Hunt

                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                I've never tried any English wine, but I thought I remembered reading an article around the time of Prince William and Kate's marriage about English sparkling wines. I'm sure production is low and they're probably impossible to find here stateside, but nevertheless I'm always intrigued to try a new (to me) region's wine.

                                                                                Found the article: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                                                                                1. re: Klunco

                                                                                  Out of curiosity I bought a couple bottles of English wine (sparkling) at Heathrow once. It was nothing special.

                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                    That pretty much sums up my experience, but using other English wines as a baseline, the sparklers (of the day), were head-and-shoulders above the rest.

                                                                                    That said, all beat out the Chinese wines, that I also tasted.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      Yeah, I had a lot of Chinese wine once, but an hour later I was sober again.

                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                        *snerk*

                                                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                          LOL!

                                                                                          Now, getting serious for a moment, after my tastings, I completely understand why they bid up the 1er Cru Bdx. wines at auction. The wines of China, well... they need some work.

                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                    2. re: Klunco

                                                                                      Going back a bit, I did taste a few (maybe 3?) English sparklers, that were not bad. Actually, they were the best of the lot. However, things have probably changed, and I have not tasted anything from England, in maybe 15 years.

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                    Last time I was over, 2009, I did not know how to read French wine labels, and since none of my English family enjoy wine, I just don't bother.

                                                                                    1. re: budnball

                                                                                      I hear ya. I thought that you meant in restaurants or in pubs. I was over there a lot around the turn of the century and last in 2006. I understand that you don't fine dine over there (which is understandable considering exchange rate). I did a lot of pubs and gastropubs; the later having many choices of wines by the glass from France, Spain, and Australia. Just an option.

                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                        a lot has changed since 2006 on the UK food scene.

                                                                                        Don't sell it short.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          Was I selling it short?

                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                            must have misunderstood "you don't fine dine over there" -- apologies if applicable.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Yes budnball mentioned down thread that he/she doesn't fine dine so I wanted to provide options for him/her which have good wine lists.
                                                                                              And I've eaten at the River Cafe and St Johns among other places in London and enjoyed both immensely.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                Until Chion00's clarification, I had the same feeling. We always dine well, for dinner, while in the UK, and I have been very pleased. However, I now see where they were coming from. Glad that I was "late to the party" here.

                                                                                                Now I understand.

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                2. re: budnball

                                                                                  Australia is still given preferential status in a lot of governmental relations with England -- and the freight isn't all that different, so yes, it's the tariffs.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    Ah, That makes sense.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      Sunsine,

                                                                                      I hear similar, but then do not see much from OZ on UK wine lists. What I encounter is plonk, or just a step above. I have never seen great OZ wines, but maybe that is the specific wine list?

                                                                                      In my UK experiences, it is mostly FR, with some GR and IT wines, to bring up the rear. OZ is way, way down those lists, as is the US wines.

                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        I drink what my pub crawling family drink when visiting. However, in the English grocery stores, there is lots of Aussie "plonk" on offer for £7-10. I don't do fine dining because I am usually there for Wimbledon which takes all my money, so I don't see wine lists. Aussie wine bottles stand out and are easy to spot in window shops or store displays.

                                                                        2. Well, if Frenchmen don't drink imported wines, they at least serve them to tourists. My brother and sister-in-law took a weekend side trip to Paris, while in England visiting their daughter. They wanted the tour that would do Notre Dame, but got stuck with Versailles because it was full. The tour guide took them to a small bistro for lunch. The wine (by the glass) tasted vaguely familiar, so my brother asked if it was imported. "I think so, but let me ask for you." The waiter disappeared, then returned grinning ear to ear, "Yes, sir. It is imported. It's Gallo, from California!" Vive la France. '-)

                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            [Grin] That is a LOL moment!

                                                                            I hope that it was Gallo-Sonoma, which would a step above.

                                                                            Hunt

                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              Sadly, Hunt, it's doubtful . . .

                                                                              ;^)

                                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                                Yeah, I had the same feeling, but just held out hope...

                                                                                Hunt

                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                              Annette's Diner (a 50s-style burger joint) at Disney Village has table placards saying that they proudly serve California wines. Can't remember whose, though -- IIRC, it just says "Californien"

                                                                              (and no, Annette's is not a Chow destination. It's okay, though, when you're jonesing a burger and a milkshake and don't feel like making it yourself)

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                Well, with but a very few exceptions, like Disney World's Victoria & Albert's in the Grand Floridian, I have never been very pleased with any Disney wine offerings, regardless of the country of origin. Have NEVER been to any Disney property, out of the US, so have no clue what they might serve in Paris, or Tokyo. With the California connection, I can see a marketing tie, but wonder how far they are able to take things. Were I the sommelier, and without corporate pressures from the "bean-counters," I would go with a Cal wine list, and make sure that each example was a really good wines. I would consider my wine list something of an "ambassador," for US and CAL wines.

                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Nah, Bill, you're overthinking - in this case it's a burger joint -- they also offer pichets of Cotes du Rhone (cheap, but drinkable), but the CA wines are offered as a novelty because it's an All-American menu.

                                                                                  And there's no sommelier.

                                                                                  I don't know what the more upscale restaurants offer at Disney Village here in Paris -- they're quite frankly very expensive, and we find it not worth the trouble or expense.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    Ah, I am just not UP on Disney properties.

                                                                                    Thank you,

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      s'okay, Bill, you're not missing much.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        Other than to attend meetings at their venues (I usually play golf), we seldom even think about their properties, but then do not have children, so are much less focused, than many.

                                                                                        Now, I will say that Victoria & Albert's, at the Grand Floridian, Disney World, is a very good fine-dining venue (wines too). We also had a really fine lunch at another restaurant (Critricos, IIRC), and that was good too.

                                                                                        Otherwise... well nothing to write home about.

                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                            3. Do you remember that Gracie Allen/George Burns episode where they're in Paris and Gracie orders a California wine because George told her that imported wine was always better?

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: whs

                                                                                While I remember Burns & Allen, I missed that episode, but do get the joke.

                                                                                Hunt

                                                                              2. Short answer: Not much.

                                                                                1. My husband is from France. He only drinks French wines.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jarona

                                                                                    Out of curiosity, has he ever tried any US wines?

                                                                                    Where do you live?

                                                                                    Thank you,

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      We are in the Northeast. He has tried US wines and he gets headaches from them. As for me, two glasses of ANY wine, good or bad, French, Spanish, Italian, US...and I'm asleep.

                                                                                  2. In my experience, not only do the French not drink California wines, but they don't drink wines from French regions other than their own. The wine from the region goes with the food from the region.

                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                      Not my experience at all. It all depends on what's cooking today -- wines from all of the regions are available in every supermarket, even in the tiniest village -- and they will match the wine to the food.

                                                                                      Everybody drinks Champagne, and the default house wine in restaurants across the country is usually a Cotes du Rhone -- and a Bordeaux Grand Cru is lusted after in every corner of l'Hexagone.

                                                                                      Most of our friends have a collection of vintners from whom they buy -- for example, they'll buy from one house in Champagne, one in the Loire, one in Provence, one in Burgundy, etc., etc., etc. -- most folks have a pretty wide assortment in their home cellars.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        Actually, I agree with pikawica. In every region of France, the default drink
                                                                                        is the local wine. I went to school in Reims, and the better restaurants had a menu
                                                                                        (chicken, sole,...) for which the best match was typically champagne. Sure,
                                                                                        they all have cotes du rhone, bordeaux, burgundy wines on the wine list, but
                                                                                        at least 50% of the time the locals order the local wine. My experience
                                                                                        in Burgundy is similarly that the default wines with dinner in good restaurants
                                                                                        are chardonnay with fish, pinot with duck, likewise when dining in Nice,
                                                                                        expect wine lists laden with Bandol, Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape
                                                                                        or Gigondas. Likewise in Grenoble (minus the Bandol). In Normandy, they will
                                                                                        of course offer wine to their customers, but expect a respectable percentage to
                                                                                        request cidre bouche. That's the way it is: every region of France is proud
                                                                                        of its local cuisine and local wines.

                                                                                        1. re: bclevy

                                                                                          Don't know France from Shinola, but what you say exactly mirrors every little burg in Germany and their breweries. Fierce pride and loyalty (and damn good beer drinking to boot. (not Das Boot, that's a whole different subject).

                                                                                          1. re: PolarBear

                                                                                            <<not Das Boot>>

                                                                                            Good one! A good friend did a wonderful parody film of "Das Boot," for his masters thesis for Pasadena School of Design. Unlike the original, his was a 30 min. riot. One could get the idea, but if they had seen the original film, much more fell into Place.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            1. re: PolarBear

                                                                                              Sadly, a lot of small local breweries in Germany are closing or being bought out by larger brewery enterprises. Part of this is that young Germans are drinking less beer and more cocktails, wine products, etc. Still, a good fresh local German beer is a wonderful thing.

                                                                                            2. re: bclevy

                                                                                              OK, and let’s talk about Paris, the most populous city in France. It has some wineries, but not well-noted ones. It does not have a real cuisine, but borrows on the cuisine of almost the entire country. What is a Parisian to do? They would be limited to only the wines of their city, but then, the cuisine comes from around the country, and not from Paris. Sounds like a very difficult situation, at least to me.

                                                                                              Does this mean that no one in Paris, who is from Paris, will order a Burgundian wine, a Bdx., or even a Côte du Rhône? What about something from the Loire? Oh wait, Paris produces wines, so that would not be allowed either. Makes me highly curious.

                                                                                              Can you explain exactly how this works?

                                                                                              Merci,

                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                Many of the local restaurants in Paris hail from a particular region of France
                                                                                                and the wine list matches the cooking. Typical examples would be
                                                                                                L'Ambassade d'Auvergne

                                                                                                http://www.ambassade-auvergne.com/int...

                                                                                                or Le Petit Sud Ouest

                                                                                                http://www.au-petit-sud-ouest.fr/

                                                                                                In all the low end creperies around Montparnasse (the area where immigrants
                                                                                                from Brittany moves in from 1945 to 1970) the drink of choice is cidre bouche.

                                                                                                So if you look closely, I would argue that about 2/3rds of Parisian restaurants
                                                                                                really give strong hints of the area of origin of their owner/chef

                                                                                                1. re: bclevy

                                                                                                  Is this true? I will defer to those who live in Paris. But my understanding would be that the modern french/nouvelle cousine and the Michelin 3 star palaces of Paris do not necessarily call to a particular region in France - and therefore their wine list would be more varied.

                                                                                                  So while certain restaurants may deliberately call to and reference a particular region of France, and so the wine list would match (say a Corsican restaurant), I imagine, especially among the restaurants that pride themselves on their lists, they would have diversity in their cellars . . .

                                                                                                  1. re: goldangl95

                                                                                                    IME, bclevy is spot on.

                                                                                                    We're not talking about stars or the place to be seen this week -- we're talking about small, family-run restaurants all over the city.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      Right, I mean I'm not too familiar enough with Paris to know the culture of the city on a day to day level. But in most large, international cities there is a rather bustling new restaurant scene as well as a formal dining scene - both not steeped in the traditions of particular regional cuisine. (not that's a bad or good thing -it just is) And I was curious as to the makeup of those wine lists in Paris, and how much a part of the cultural fabric these restaurants and wines are for Parisians...

                                                                                                      1. re: goldangl95

                                                                                                        but Paris (and France) is deeply and lovingly steeped in tradition and traditional cuisine from all over France -- on a far different level than any other city of its size.

                                                                                                        The relationship between the French and their food is unlike that I've seen anywhere else I've ever lived or traveled -- it's absolutely fascinating -- and is part of what makes it such a great place to live.

                                                                                                  2. re: bclevy

                                                                                                    I understand that, but then we have one region (Paris), that features wines from around France.

                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                      I've only visited Paris a handful of times but I'd add that it being a large capital city with many different kinds of people I'd imagine its like DC or London where there's a smaller percentage of "native people"; versus what a smaller town or region in France would have in that regard. So it would be difficult to say this is what your typical Parisian would eat or drink when they could be an immigrant from Tunisia or Ivory Coast or something else no?

                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                        Those have been my observations, as well. Paris is a "melting pot," and folk come from all over. Same for London. When we first started visiting there, I loved to hear UK English spoken on the street. Now, it is totally missing. Everyone speaks another language, and UK English is not one of them. One must travel into the countryside to hear such now.

                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                2. re: bclevy

                                                                                                  I wholeheartedly agree that wine lists are heavily skewed toward local wines -- but pikawicca said that "they don't drink wines from French regions other than their own" -- and THAT is absolutely not true.

                                                                                                  What's available on a restaurant wine list doesn't reflect what people cellar and drink in their own homes -- and it doesn't extend to restaurants from *other* regions -- which serve the wines from the *other* region.