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.
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
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.