Category Archives: Tips for wine luverz

Why are French women so slim?

I keep getting Vogue articles on my Facebook feed with this title and it is doing my head in.   I don’t think that we should be fed this kind of blether by our anti-social media.  Anyhow, in this article I would like to reveal a few rules that they live by which seem to give them a very positive attitude to food.

And a positive attitude to food helps towards having a positive attitude to life n’est ce pas?

First of all, French women are not all so slim.  Any French woman will arch her beautiful eyebrows and tell you that.

I do sometimes have this conversation with my friends.  As normal lady people they are generally mystified by this particular stereotype.

So first things first:  French women are lovely and they do come in all shapes and sizes like in every other country in the world.  There might be statistically more slim people in France than elsewhere but lets say that having lived here for the past fifteen years I think it is a stereotype – a bit like all Irish people are leprechauns.

Although it is true that we all believe in fairies.  Or at least I do.  Moving on.

However I think that generally speaking the French only half realise it but they have lots of rules.  And as long as they stick to those rules they generally don’t worry too much.  The rules are as wide as your average French boulevard and allow lots of fun and everybody sticks to them, so they seem to work.

Eight key ones just in case you are curious. Continue reading Why are French women so slim?

Keeping your wine fine

If I was to write this like the posts/blogs I see going viral at the moment I would say something like: this woman did this to her wine bottle and something totally unexpected happened.  You will just be amazed by this.  Just click on the button.  And your life will be changed forever.  Totes promise.

Ok maybe that is just me being a grump.

So this is about miscellaneous wine facts, one of which might help you preserve your wine for longer and keep it tasting lurverly.

Wine is to French people as Gaelic football is to Irish people.  Kind of.  Not really.  Anyway people are passionate about it, very proud of it and it generates many long hours of furious debate and conversation per year in France.

A high percentage of French people enjoy a nice glass regularly and a lot of people have grown up listening to in depth conversations about wine at the dinner table.  As in,

“this La Cornasse is not up to its usual quality?”

” Oh really what year is it?  Ah well that year there was a lot of rain and you know with the kind of soil they have on that side of the mountain there was a mudslide so they had a bad harvest and they had to mix with wine from another parcel so really the quality is much lower”

“Ah yes” ( knowing looks, gurgle, swirl, sniff, knowing looks, glug glug glug)

And so on.

That is a bit of an exaggeration.  But only a wee bit.  In fact a lot of French people have an impressively in-depth knowledge of wine.  In France people know that wine is a living thing and that no two years in a row will produce the same wine.  Parcels of land are divided up really carefully and the taste of the wine depends on the exposure to sun, the general weather conditions the grapes are subjected to (hail etc.), the quality of the soil and so on.

The type of wine depends on the grape used and the “appellation” depends on the parcel of land.  On top of that each “maison” has their own method and may use different material and methodologies depending on tradition or new things they are trying out.  And may store the wine in different types of wooden barrels  which then gives the wine an even more specific taste.  The variety of wine in France is endless.

There really is a lot to talk about when you start getting into it.

But I’m not going to get into that here.

What I am getting at is that around the whole wine culture entails a lot of subsidiary knowledge gathering for the storage and general maintenance of wine for the average person.  For example, there would quite a few people who would have a wine cellar and failing that a special wine fridge somewhere in their home.  These special wine fridges maintain the wine at optimum levels of temperature and humidity.   If you peek inside, you see the wine bottles sleeping peacefully awaiting their moment of glory where they explode on someone’s palate.

So, I will now reveal two tips that I came across in recent times which are very clever and apply to anybody who has a bottle of wine which they haven’t finished yet.  If however you have a tendency to finish your wine in one go then this top tip doesn’t apply to you.   And you aren’t getting any judgement from this lady either, let me reassure you.

Tip no.1:

  • Don’t put red wine in the fridge – it kills the aroma apparently
    • you also have to wait a long time before it gets to the right temperature when you take it out – which we all agree is lost quality wine-time right?
  • Gasp I hear you say, but where to put it ?
    • your average counter top is grand as long as the bottle is out of direct sunlight
      • under your sink is fine too, wine is a bit like your average vampire in that sense….except vampires don’t turn into vinegar or fit under the sink….I digress…

Tip no.2: (requires one whiskey drinker per household)

  • The corks of whiskey bottles fit wine bottles.  So you put the whiskey bottle cork in your wine bottle and Bob’s your uncle!  The trick is to keep the oxygen away.

I know everybody buys those cutsie wine-stoppers but have you ever noticed how you can never find them after a few weeks?  I believe there may be some kind of mafia fairy/leprechaun consortium that collects them to decorate their Queen’s palace with them.  Whisky bottle corks are safe because lets be honest they are fairly ugly.

Next:

Next blog will be a killer tip for how to cut your cheese properly because yes there is a politically incorrect way to cut your cheese.  And yes I have done it and yes it was bad.  Silence falls, people look at each other for a microsecond with raised eyebrows and there is a general lull in the conversation while people question what the hell the world is coming to if people don’t know how to cut cheese for chrissake.

Nah I’m exaggerating again, they generally don’t care and have a bit of a giggle at the philistine but they will curse you mildly the next day at lunchtime while they spend a half hour shaving off the “croute”.

Anyway, that is enough of a reveal to intrigue you enough for now  i think…au revoir mes amis!

 

 

 

 

 

Vin de Merde

It is a thing.

So it has been sitting in the wine cupboard stewing away for the past few months.  Himself’s mum bought not one but two bottles as a present a few months ago.  To make us giggle.  Probably.

We drank a few glasses of the first bottle and the next day my head fell off.  So we vowed not to drink it again.

Then what happened was I had a strong need to make an Irish stew last weekend.  Beef and Guiness, the works.  However we committed a fatal error, we neglected to do that thing that every French person MUST imperatively do – our shopping on a Saturday.  This was due to a number of different reasons, which if not listed in the order of priority could be: crappy week, confusion about what our motivation levels were, laziness and general lack of direction when we don’t have to manage the kids of a weekend.

So we found ourselves wandering around the cobbled streets of Grenoble with our little shopping trolley of a rainy misty Sunday morning.  The idea was that we would pick up ingredients from wherever was open.  We found the usual vegetable suspects at the market including Keyser Soze spuds.  We passed an Halal butcher and said sure what’s the harm and we went in.

There followed a true moment where we realised we had been walking past this gem of a place for the past couple of years where everybody knew each other’s name and the service is wonderful.   So to cut a long story short we succeeded in picking up the meat.

But for the key ingredient, i.e. the Guinness, there was nowhere near open.  Near being within five minutes walk.  We were very tired at that stage.

So himself says, “le vin de merde?”  and I was very dubious.  How could one contemplate the replacement of the premiere ingredient?  We then had a long instense debate whereby he raised an eyebrow and I put hands on my hips and we both said “feck it, enough with the shopping – vin de merde it is”.

So with a feeble heigh ho I set to cooking on Sunday afternoon and somewhere in the middle of the proceedings I probably lathered in about half the bottle.

And bejaysus, I made the nicest stew I have ever made.

So the lessons of this story are many:

  • if you are Irish and abroad and you really feel like a stew, don’t let anything stand in your way
  • if you live in France and are too lazy to do your shopping on a Saturday it is not the end of the world but be ready to make compromises, very very few shops are open on a Sundy
  • I think it might not be very patriotic but I suspect that le vin de merde is actually nicer in the stew than the Guinness  .. pains me to write that…this will probably generate a storm of publicity and international debate but some things have to be said for the good of all
  • ara that’s probably it

Next blog will be a killer tip about how to keep your red wine alive for weeks….