Wine drinking in France sucks

Just been in several places in France for the last week on business.

As it was business we eat out at reasonably good places most days, the wine overall sucked. The choices in French restaurants are limited to local wines and a few token BDX. Burg and Rhone. The wines were very expensive and generally bland for example a local wine like Jurancon or Tennat ( excuse spelling ) in the South was still $50 in a local bistro despite tasting to me like a $10 table wine. Get into Paris and dont even bother !! my business associate ordered a bottle of Chasse Spleen 14 for $100 in a steakhouse, actually not too bad but then it came and he had not picked up it was the second wine, it was palettable for $10-12, not $100.

The reason they sell so much French wine in the restaurants is because they do not sell anything else, not even Spanish or Italian, this really surprised me when we basically in the foothills of the Pyrenees and still not a Spanish wine in site. We were also eating in what you would call foodie type places, not chains.

Let me be very clear, if the French had to compete on the same terms as US wines they would get their ass kicked. Im sorry, i know a lot of people here like the French tasteless watery stagnant wines because they feel it is sophisticated to hunt for but when your buying wines for business clients $50 ( which is a limit for a lot of corporation people ) just gets you so much more in US wine

So if you want good value french wine eat in USA and if you want the best wines for the price drink US wines in the USA

I know there are a million places like Spain, italy, Chile, Australia that this is not the case, lets keep this strictly about France

French wine is the worst. Boooo!!!

Can you give an example of a business dinner situation where you spent $50 on a bottle of wine that you really enjoyed? I honestly can’t remember the last time I was at a business dinner where the cheapest bottle on the list was $50 or less.

Is it possible that they indentified you as a boor when you walked in, and thus gave you the ugly American menu?

I have no clue where you went, whether you checked out their wine list in advance, or whether you know anything about French wine - I seem to recall you posting mostly about California wines - but my experience in France is dramatically different.

I’m surprised you didn’t notice it was the second label, and therefore have sent it back.

Don’t feed it!

France absolutely destroys the US in wines under $50…it’s not even close…jmho :slight_smile:

Yes, another trolling post by the OP. No value in engaging.

Ditto to your comments Robert.

I have been to France over 15 times and never had this issue…you need to research the places you go to, get recommendations and plan ahead. Part of this is a really about what type of wine you like as you seem to have a more Cali centered palate and this can be challenging in France as they don’t rate Cali wines very highly.

Having said that, if I had to be constrained to only drinking California wines while in California…I too would go crazey as they don’t generally float my boat.

Bottom line…do some research ahead of time when travelling.

There is one thing that really feels fake about the OP post. In general, I have found markups at US restaurants to be much higher than markups in European restaurants. I don’t know where he went and anything else about his trip except vague generalities, but while I can imagine $20 wines (around current US cellar tracker price of the 2014 of the second wines of Chasse Spleen) costing $100 in top NY restaurants (and have seen these types of markups many times), I have never seen anything like that type of markup in a French restaurant. Have any of you?

Look, it is easy to imagine someone who only likes fruit bombs like the OP going to France and not liking any of the wines. In fact, I would expect for him not to like any wines in France. But, the markup story just does not ring true to me.

[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif] [dance-clap.gif] [dance-clap.gif]

Thanks for the chuckle Alan

I guess you’ve never traveled in Europe. In Tuscany, you won’t find Piedmont wines in the stores or on restaurant lists, or vice versa. And you’re unlikely to find an Italian or French wine in a Spanish restaurant.

The reason we have such eclectic, diverse wine lists here is that the US doesn’t produce any good wines.

Probably had bad stemware too

The wines were very expensive and generally bland for example a local wine like Jurancon or Tennat ( excuse spelling ) in the South was still $50 in a local bistro despite tasting to me like a $10 table wine.

Presumably you were somewhere like Pau? Of course they would sell and support local wines, just like any other wine-producing region would. There are excellent Jurançons, and wonderful Madirans: did you ask for advice as to what to choose?

The Chasse-Spleen story sounds a little odd. Normally the mark-up in a restaurant is 3. There aren’t many wines in any restaurant on sale for $10 for obvious reasons. Perhaps you were just had - this could have happened anywhere else in the world, or maybe they just brought the wrong bottle by mistake.

In Europe, restaurant prices are often close to retail, actually. But perhaps not in the Paris steakhouse where Alan ate.

Alan should never eat in a restaurant that would have him as a customer.

Here’s a cozy little spot for you Francophiles - L’Ami Louis!

What you actually find when you arrive at L’Ami Louis is singularly unprepossessing. It’s a long, dark corridor with luggage racks stretching the length of the room. It gives you the feeling of being in a second-class railway carriage in the Balkans. It’s painted a shiny, distressed dung brown. The cramped tables are set with labially pink cloths, which give it a colonic appeal and the awkward sense that you might be a suppository. In the middle of the room is a stubby stove that also looks vaguely proctological.

At the end of the dining room is the tiny kitchen and an even tinier bar, where the waiters lurk like extras for a Gallic version of The Sopranos. The staff are an essential part of Louis’s mystique. Paunchy, combative, surly men, bulging out of their white jackets with the meaty malevolence of gouty buffalo. They may well be related by blood—theirs or other people’s. They exude a pantomime insolence, an existential Le Fug Youse. As you walk in, one approaches with an eyebrow raised and nose aloft to give you the benefit of full-frontal froggy nostril. If you get past the door, and many don’t, the first thing your waiter does is take your coat. The next thing he does is fling it with effortful nonchalance into the luggage rack. Returning customers know to keep wallets, BlackBerrys, and spectacles out of their pockets. As it is, a tinkling dandruff of change scuttles behind the banquettes.

We are sat at a table by the door. Our particular chubby, oyster-eyed fellow dumps off a pair of menus and a large book without a word or the offer of a drink. The menu is brief and bloody. The tome is the wine list. It turns out to be a massive eulogy to claret. Every grand château and vintage is represented with sycophantic prices. The wine cellar is behind the lavatory in a crypt that smells overpoweringly of fetid bladder damp. After a lot of smiley semaphore, I manage to beg a single glass of house red for my companion.

We order foie gras and snails to start. Foie gras is a L’Ami Louis specialty. After 30 minutes what come are a pair of intimidatingly gross flabs of chilly pâté, with a slight coating of pustular yellow fat. They are dense and stringy, with a web of veins. I doubt they were made on the premises. The liver crumbles under the knife like plumber’s putty and tastes faintly of gut-scented butter or pressed liposuction. The fat clings to the roof of my mouth with the oleaginous insistence of dentist’s wax.

As I suck my teeth, I watch the waiters saunter up and down the aisle like Vichy ticket collectors. Another one appears. Not fat, not white, not a caricature. A lithe, handsome boy, who is probably North African. He is plainly a prop. His job is to be wrong, to soak up blame. The big men bully up, roll their eyes, wave their chubby knuckles at him as he delivers and clears and sweeps crumbs. A man pretends to cuff him round the ear and looks over at a table of Americans with a grin and a wink to include them in the jape.

An Englishman in blinding tweed and racy cap pushes through the door and roars. A waiter steps forward, arms outstretched, and makes hee-haw, hee-haw noises like Bart Simpson pretending to speak French. It is the practiced and familiar ritual greeting of mutual incomprehension and ancient contempt. Our servant glides past and does a silent-movie double take. “Your snails!” he exclaims. “They have not come!” His cheeks bulge as he flaps his short arms. In all my years of professional eating, I have never seen this before. I have seen waiters do many, many things, including burst into tears and juggle knives, and I once glimpsed one having sex. But never, ever has a waiter commiserated with me about the lack of service.

Twenty minutes later, possibly under their own steam, the snails arrive. Vesuvian, they bubble and smoke in a magma of astringent garlic butter and parsley. We grasp them with the spring-loaded specula and gingerly unwind the dark gastropods, curling like dinosaur boogers. They go on and on, expanding onto the plate as if they were alien. We have to cut them in half, which is just wrong. The rule with snails is: Don’t eat one you couldn’t get up your nose.

Twenty minutes later, our plates are taken away. Twenty minutes after that, our main courses arrive. Or rather, my companion’s does. A veal chop, utterly plain, unaccompanied or sullied by decoration or inspiration. Just an awkwardly butchered skinny rib that has been grilled for too long on one side and too little on the other so that it is simultaneously stingingly dry and overdone and flabbily, slimily raw. She can’t decide which side to complain about.

I have decided not to go for the famous roast chicken, mainly because I’ve suffered it before and I’d just been watching a Japanese couple wrestle with one like a manga poltergeist from some Tokyo horror movie, its scaly blue legs stabbing the air. So on to the broiled kidneys. Nothing I have eaten or heard of being eaten here prepared me for the arrival of the veal kidneys en brochette. Somehow the heat had welded them together into a gray, suppurating renal brick. It could be the result of an accident involving rat babies in a nuclear reactor. They don’t taste as nice as they sound.

As an afterthought, or perhaps as an apology, the waiter brings a funeral pyre of French fries—they taste of seared and overused cooking oil—and then a green salad of frisée and mâche, two leaves that rarely share a bowl, due to their irreconcilable differences. They have been doused in vinegar that may have been recycled from the gherkin bottle. Dessert is four balls of gray ice cream and something that had once been chocolate.

Bon appetit!

Surely, this was in jest. In truth, I’m guessing cultural differences and the three-tier system play significant roles in this.

The wine lists at most entertainment-amenable restaurants seem to be like hair-trigger landmine fields, perhaps by deliberate design. The host implicitly faces two bad alternatives, sheepish embarrassment for not selecting the far-overpriced wines, versus painful explanation or even rejection when submitting the expense reports. That is why I bring my own wines, even to business dinners.

Because we research, collect, and taste so many different wines, we are far more likely than the average restaurant patron to know when we have stepped into a landmine field…which still might not prevent us from being blown to smithereens.

Ha! “I see your troll and I raise you a Troll!”