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FOOD & DRINK

Rosé, spritz and pressé: 5 things to drink in France this summer

Summer in France means lots of things - trips to the beach, empty cities, works on the Paris Metro - but it also ushers in rosé and spritz season. Here's some of the best options to drink in France this summer.

Rosé, spritz and pressé: 5 things to drink in France this summer
Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP

Rosé

Wine is a pretty popular product all year round, but as soon as the sunny days arrive, the shelves of your local cave or supermarket will be filled with rosé.

Rosé wines sometimes get a bad reputation abroad, but there are plenty of excellent vins rosé in France, especially the ones from the rosé heartland of Provence, the majority of which are dry, not sweet.

It’s often served as a pre-dinner drink (an apéro) but it also pairs well with food so you’ll see it on restaurant wine lists. 

Rosé wine is not a mix of red wine and white wine, instead it’s made from red wine grapes but using a different technique in which the skin of the grapes is removed earlier, meaning that the skins do not impart their red colour to the wine. Rosé is in fact the oldest wine type in France – the ancient Romans produced wine using the rosé technique in Provence. 

Spritzes

If you’re not a rosé fan, why not try a spritz as the temperature rises? Spritz refers to any drink that is a combination of wine (usually sparkling wine), soda water and an apéritif drink. They’re served long with lots of ice so make a refreshing and not too strong drinks option in the summer.   

The classic spritz is the Apérol spritz – made with Apérol, sparkling wine and soda water, usually garnished with a slice of orange. Although ubiquitous in France, Apérol is actually Italian (its name comes from aperitivo, the Italian word for pre-dinner drinks).

There are lots of other options though – Campari Spritz, with the bitter-but-delicious Italian Campari.

Lillet spritz – the French aromatised wine Lillet is often served as a spritz, garnished with mint or cucumber. 

Saint-Germain spritz – the elderflower liqueur Saint-Germain is often found served as a spritz in the summer, garnished with fruit.  

Beer

French beer culture is rapidly changing and there are now more and more options available if you want to drink beer in France.

The traditional demi (half litre) of French of Belgian beers are still widely available, but craft beers are also really taking off, especially in northern France.

A combination of imports from the UK and US, plus an ever-increasing number of small craft breweries in France mean there are lots of craft ales on offer now, from IPA to stout. It’s also getting more common to serve beer as une pinte (a pint).

READ ALSO How France became a nation of beer lovers

Non-alcoholic beers are also increasingly common in France and most of the big-name brands such as Kronenbourg, Grimbergen and Pelforth now have a zero-alcohol option. Ask for une bière sans alcool, or if you want want a summer shandy (beer mixed with lemonade) ask for a panaché.

Citron pressé

If you’re looking for something non-alcoholic, the classic pressé is a good option.

The most common option is a citron (lemon) pressé, but many cafés have other fruit options. Keep in mind this isn’t exactly a lemonade – if you’re looking for this you can ask for a citronade

The classic pressé is served as a neat squeezed juice, served with a jug of water and (in the case of the lemon) a couple of sachets of sugar, so that you can mix the juice to your own taste.

But aware that soft drinks are not necessarily cheaper than alcoholic ones in France, and a citron pressé will often be more expensive than buying a beer or a glass of wine.

Water

Of course staying hydrated is vital as the temperature rises, and there’s no better option for your health than water.

In cafés and restaurants if you simply ask for ‘water’ you’re likely to be brought mineral water and this can be more expensive than beer or wine, especially in tourist areas.

If you just want tap water ask for une carafe d’eau or un pichet d’eau, which is free.

Tap water in France is entirely safe to drink and the city of Paris is currently running a campaign called Je choisi l’eau de Paris (I choose Paris tap water) to encourage people to cut down on plastic waste by ditching bottled water and drinking tap water instead.

If you see a Je choisi l’eau de Paris sticker in the window of any business, it means you can go in and get your water bottle filled up for free.

READ ALSO Six things to know about tap water in France

Most French cities also have a network of drinking fountains where you can stay hydrated for free during the summer months. 

Member comments

  1. Under the non-alcoholic options, it’s a shame not to mention the Diabolo Menthe and Menthe à l’Eau – two deliciously refreshing drinks. Great for mid-day when I want something cold and tasty, but I don’t want alcohol. I think they might be considered kid’s drinks in France, but this grownup loves them.

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FOOD & DRINK

France introduces stricter wine rules for restaurants, bars and cafés

The French government has introduced stricter wine rules for restaurants, bars and cafés, which must now display full information on the origins of all wines they serve.

France introduces stricter wine rules for restaurants, bars and cafés

If you’re ordering a bottle of wine it’s likely that the menu will state where the wine comes from, but previously this was not always the case for wines bought by the glass or carafe.

Most French cafés and restaurants offer wine by the glass as well as pitchers or carafes or various sizes, which are also sometimes referred to as un pot, particularly in the east of France.

Thanks to a new law that came into effect on July 24th, if you order any of these, the bar or restaurant is obliged to display full information on where the wine comes from, and its protected geographical origin (AOP) if it has one.

Any establishments that sell wine – whether for consumption on or off the premises – must display the information in full and in writing. Failure to do so makes them liable to a €1,500 fine. 

The law is a revision of the Loi relative à la transparence de l’information sur les produits agricoles et alimentaires, which came into force in 2020 and is intended to protect French farmers and producers.

French vocab

Une bouteille de vin rouge, s’il vous plaît –  a bottle of red wine, please

Une bouteille de vin blanc – a bottle of white wine

Un pichet de vin rosé – a pitcher of rosé wine

Une carafe de vin – a pitcher of wine

Pichet and carafe are just different words for the same thing, and if you want tap water (as opposed to mineral water) with your meal, ask for un pichet d’eau or une carafe d’eau. Carafes usually come in varying sizes, the most common being 50cl or 25cl.

Cinqante centilitres – 50cl, or two thirds of a bottle

Vingt-cinq centilitres – 25cl, or one third of a bottle

Un pot lyonnais – if you’re in or around Lyon, you might see wine listed on the menu as by the pot – this comes in a carafe that is shaped like a small bottle with a very thick glass bottom. The classic pot lyonnais holds exactly 46 centilitres, or just over half a bottle  

Un verre de vin rouge – a glass of red wine 

Encore de vin, s’il vous plaît – another wine, please (the ‘encore‘ lets your server know that you want another glass/bottle/pitcher of the same wine)

Vin bio – organic wine

Vin naturel – wine produced by ‘natural’ methods 

Bio, natural or biodynamic: 5 things to know about organic wine in France

Qui va goûter? – Who will taste? The standard question that your server will ask when they bring the bottle of wine to your table

Un pot-de-vin – a bribe. Not a wine term as such, but if you hear reference to un pot-de-vin it means a bribe. These days bribes are usually paid in cash, but the origins of the term are pretty clear.

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