Planning a trip to France? Most tourists try to emulate the French way of life, especially when it comes to drinking. But there are many unwritten rules around how to drink like a French person. It can seem daunting but don’t worry, drinking like a French is not that hard! It’s still better to know the etiquette in order to drink like a French person perfectly. Most of those rules apply to wine, drinking other beverages is not that different in France.
Don’t drink wine without food
Please don’t drink wine without food, especially red wine. In France, you won’t find a single person drinking red wine on its own. Rosé on its own is ok, white wine every now and then, but definitely not red wine! Enjoy your glass with something to eat, either when you’re having dinner or as an apéritif with cheese, baguette, charcuterie…
Know how to match wine and food
As a general rule, white wine goes with any fish, seafood and dessert. Red wine goes with red meat and tomato-based dishes, vegetables and cheese. And you drink rosé at the apéritif. What you drink also depends on the season. You’ll mostly drink white wine or rosé summertime, and red wine wintertime.
Don’t fill your glass to the brim
Don’t do it in France, it’s frowned upon, and the locals will raise their eyebrows! You’re having wine to enjoy the taste, not to get drunk! Those are basic good manners in France, a classy way of drinking! If you fill your glass to the brim, you’re going to look like a lush, it’s just bad manners!
Don’t put ice cubes in your glass
Please don’t do it, you want to drink like a French person! A few people do it in their glass or rosé, but it’s not common because it dilutes the wine. Never ever but ice cubes in your glass of red wine, it’s a sacrilege! For your information, white wine and rosé are always served cold but red wine is served at room temperature.
Toast with every person at the table
Now the food is on the table, ready to be savored, your glass is not completely full, you didn’t put ice on it… It’s time to toast! Raise your glass, say in unison “Santé!” or “Tchin-tchin!“, and look at the person next to you in the eyes when you clink glasses. You toast all together once, but clink glasses with every single person, and always look in the eyes when you clink glasses. Don’t cross arms though.
Other unwritten rules in order to drink like a French
Frenchies are chauvinistic, they usually drink French wine. It’s not common to bring a bottle of foreign wine at a dinner party (it’s not frowned upon or forbidden, it’s just not common!). Ladies, be careful and don’t leave lipstick stains on your wine glass. When they don’t drink wine, the French usually drink beers, liquor, cognac, pastis (an aniseed flavoured aperitif served with water and ice), kir (white wine and crème de cassis) or calvados (an apple brandy distilled from cider). Always with class, binge-drinking there is a lot less common than in English-speaking countries!