Essential French Words And Phrases For Wine Lovers 🍷

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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Essential French Words And Phrases For Wine Lovers 🍷

On holiday and sipping a glass of red wine in a French restaurant?

It doesn’t get better than this, does it? 😊

But what if you could impress the sommelier with a few French language skills and describe that rich Cabernet Sauvignon or that Pinot Noir, without glancing at the menu?

That might just be the highlight of the evening — something you’ll be chatting about throughout the night.

To do it, you’re going to need some of these French words and phrases for wine lovers! And, guess what? You’ve got the essentials you’re going to need for this purpose just below.

I’ve put this list of French expressions and vocab together specifically for wine lovers.

Some of our phrases are even cognates, so that ought to make things easier! À ta santé!

Let’s get into it.

What is the French word for wine?

To say ‘wine’ in French, the phrase you’ve been racking your brain over and trying to remember before you’ve reached the restaurant is le vin.

Le vin is a masculine noun. You can tell that it is masculine because the masculine article le comes before the noun itself.

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What are the French words to identify the main types of wine?

But, it’s not enough to know that ‘wine’ translates to French as le vin.

There are so many different types of wine, after all!

So, here are a few French words to identify the main types of wine:

Le FrançaisEnglish
RoséRose
BlancWhite
RougeRed
Le champagneThe champagne

Note, two of the types of wine in the above table are cognates — that’s right, rosé and le champagne.

Also, keep in mind that each of the first three types of wine in our table simply uses French colours to identify them.

Rouge, for example, is French for ‘red’.

Blanc is French for ‘white’.

Rosé means ‘pink’, but the cognate still stands — in English, we still call it a rosé wine (even if we might forget the accent mark when writing it).

If you’re ordering a white wine at a French restaurant, you might say:

Listen to audio

Je prendrai un vin blanc

I'll have a white wine

Key adjectives for describing French wine

Okay, so we know the basics.

Now we’ll go a step further. So, here are some of the adjectives you’ll need for describing French wine.

How would you describe the flavour and texture of your wine?

Don’t forget to swill it around and inhale those aromas!

Le FrançaisEnglish
CorséFull-bodied
SecDry
DouxSweet

The adjectives we’ve put in the above table can be used to describe the consistency of the French wine you’re savouring.

So, your wine could be sec (dry), doux (sweet) or corsé (full-bodied).

To describe it, you could say:

Listen to audio

C’est un vin doux.

It's a sweet wine

Or

Listen to audio

C’est un vin sec.

It's a dry wine.

And while you’re savouring those fruity, full-bodied, dry or sweet textures/flavours, here’s a tip to avoid getting it wrong.

In French, the adjective that describes the properties of the wine always follow the noun.

We wouldn’t say c’est un doux vin, for instance. Keep in mind that in this case, the adjective doux goes after the noun vin. And the same is true for each of the other two adjectives we’ve listed just above (sec and corsé).

Sampling wine in French - the essential phrases you’ll need

But you might not be at a French restaurant — you could be in a wine tasting bar, right? Which phrases will you need for situations like these? I’ve got your back.

Check out this list.

Le FrançaisEnglish
Bar à vinWine bar
VerreGlass
Faire tournerSwirl
Sentir les arômesSmell the aromas
Prendre une gorgéeTake a sip

The first thing we’ll say about this list relates to the wine bar phrase at the top of the table.

Bar à vin is a masculine noun.

This means it should have the masculine article le or indefinite article un beforehand.

Listen to audio

Un bar à vin.

A wine bar.
Listen to audio

Le bar à vin.

The wine bar.

If you wanted to send a message to your friend to say ‘I’m going to a wine bar’, or ‘do you want to go to a wine bar?’, you would need to bear this in mind.

Instead of saying je vais dans une bar à vin, you would need to use the masculine article:

Listen to audio

Je vais dans un bar à vin.

I'm going to a wine bar.

Words to say ‘drunk’ or ‘tipsy’ in French

Steady on, though. It’s all too easy to drink a little too much — especially if you’re sampling French wines. They’re some of the best in the world, of course! But if you’re feeling a little tipsy, these are the words you’re going to need.

There are various ways to say it:

Le FrançaisEnglish
Soûl/soûledrunk
ÉméchéTipsy
BourréDrunk (colloquial/slang)
IvreDrunk

So, if you’re struggling to walk in a straight line after your second glass of white, for example, the word you’ll want to use is ivre. You might say:

Listen to audio

Il est ivre.

He is drunk.

Or

Listen to audio

Ell est ivre.

She is drunk.

Or

Listen to audio

Je suis tellement ivre.

I'm so drunk.

And if you wanted to use the word soûl, which is a synonym of ivre, remember that this has a masculine and feminine version. Soûl is used if you are a man, soûle is used if you’re a woman.

Alternatively, if your cheeks are glowing a little or you’re a bit ‘merry’, you might use the word éméché to say that you’re a bit tipsy.

Listen to audio

Je suis un peu éméché.

I'm a bit tipsy.

Adjectives to describe the quality of wine in French

Now, was that wine good or bad? If you’re a little ivre, you might not remember! But if you wanted to describe how good your wine was, you might say:

Listen to audio

Ce vin est bon.

This wine is good.

Or if it was bad, cheap, or tasted ‘not-so-good’ here’s how you might describe it:

Listen to audio

Ce vin est de la piquette.

This wine is cheap!

While we’re at it, the word piquette is used to describe a beverage made by combining grape pomace and water. So, this is why it’s one way of describing the quality of the wine as pretty poor or cheap.

Knowing some French enhances your wine-tasting experience

Now you’ve got some French words and phrases under your belt to enhance your next wine-tasting experience. 🍷

There are so many unique wine types in France, with each region producing its particular variety. So, if you’re headed to France, this is your opportunity.

You might not have remembered all of these words from your French course, but now you’ve got no excuse. Start using the right adjectives to describe those exceptional wines!


Have we missed any adjectives or phrases that you would like to see on the list?

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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