Useful Expressions To Order Wine in French In A Restaurant

Wine in France is a religion. Now you are in France, you are impatient and ready to practice your French in a restaurant with a native. In this week’s post, I will share with you useful expressions in French to use with the waiter or the Sommelier while ordering wine in French in a restaurant.

This real-life situation is a fantastic opportunity to interact with locals and deepen your knowledge of the French culture. However, it can also be stressful if you don’t know which expressions to use with the Sommelier.  If you want to try not switching to English too easily and continue the conversation in French, first make sure that you master the vocabulary and expressions related to wine. If you wish to go further when you are in Paris for a long or short stay, you should also try our private wine tasting in one of the best wine merchant of Paris.


Photo credit Louis-Smit

Photo credit Louis-Smit


How to ask questions to the sommelier or waiter. 

In all restaurants, you will be asked “Voulez-vous du vin? “(Would you like some wine?). You can choose to have it “au verre” (a single glass of wine), or “à la bouteille” (the whole bottle).

In “Un Grand Restaurant”, you will have “un Sommelier “(a wine steward) giving you advice on which wine to choose according to the type of meats and flavours you ordered. The best solution is to communicate as much as you can with the sommelier or the waiter. If you hesitate or simply need recommendations, you will also have questions to ask the sommelier. I recommend using the following questions:

  •    Est-ce que avez la carte des vins s’il vous plait?  (Do you have the wine list please?)
  •    Est-ce que vous servez du vin au verre?  (Do you serve wine by the glass ?)
  •    Est-ce que vous avez des demies-bouteilles? (Do you offer half-bottles of wine ?)
  •    Quelles sont vos suggestions pour le vin? (What are your wine suggestions?)
  •    Quel vin est-ce que vous me recommandez?  (Which wine do you recommend ?)
  •    Quel vin est-ce que vous me conseillez pour aller avec ce plat?  (Which wine do you recommend to go with this dish?)
  •   J’hésite entre deux vins, lequel est-ce que vous me conseillez?  (I hesitate between two wines, which one do you recommend ?)

Before making a recommendation, the waiter might enquire about your tastes for wine and preferences. To start, he or she might be asked if you prefer a “vin rouge” (red wine) a “vin blanc” (white wine) or a “vin rosé” (rosé wine). It’s perfect if you already know those basic French words, but it’s not sufficient. Even if you nobody asks you to be an expert and use technical expressions, it’s better to encourage the sommelier to continue the interaction in French.

Photo credit: Pelle Martin

Photo credit: Pelle Martin

I encourage you to express what you like or what you dislike and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. To speak about your tastes with more detail, you can use the following expressions:


How to express your tastes and preferences in French.

  •   J’aime les vins légers et frais. (I like light and fresh wines.)
  •   J’aime les vins pétillants. (I like sparkling wines.)
  •   Je préfère les vins fruités. (I prefer fruity wines.)
  •   J’ai une préférence pour les vins blanc secs. (I have a preference for dry white wines.)
  •   J’aime assez les vins liquoreux. (I quite like sweet wines.)
  •   Je bois des vins moelleux. (I drink mellow wines.)
  •   En général je bois des vins charpentés. (In general I drink well-structured wines.)
  •   J’aime les cépages de Bourgogne comme le Chardonnay. (I like grape varieties of Burgundy  such as Chardonnay.)
  •   J’aime assez les vins minéraux. (I quite like mineral wines.)
  •   J’aime bien les vins boisés. (I quite like oaky wines.)
  •   J’aime les notes végétales dans un vin. I (like the vegetal notes in a wine.)
  •   J’adore les notes florales. (I love floral notes.)
  •   Ce que j’aime ce sont les vins épicés. (What I like are spicy wines.)
  •   J’adore les arômes épicés. (I love spicy flavours.)


How to order in French.

 Now you have overcome your fear of speaking French with the sommelier, and even start to feel more relaxed. Well done! You have made your choice and you are now ready to order. Here are the expressions you can use:

  •     Je vais prendre un Nuit-Saint-Georges. (I will have a Nuit-Saint-Georges.)
  •     Je voudrais une bouteille de St Emilion. (I would like a bottle of St Emilion.)
  •     J’ai choisi un Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2012. (I have chosen a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2012.)

Check out this link to learn more about the wine regions.

How to pronounce French wine words


Now you are ready to speak with the waiter or the Sommelier it's better if you pronounce correctly the wine words. It will encourage him/her to continue the conversation in French . To learn correct pronunciation check out this great link here


Photo credit: Jay Wennington

Photo credit: Jay Wennington

Who tastes the wine first?

 In upmarket restaurants, the sommelier would fill your glasses. Just before pouring the glasses he might ask who will taste the wine first. The person who ordered the bottle is the designated sniffer.

  •    Qui goûte le vin? (Who tastes the wine?)
  •    Je vous sers Madame, Monsieur? (Shall I serve you Madam, Mister?)
  •     C’est moi / lui / elle: (It’s me / him / her.)
  •     Mon mari / ma femme / mon ami(e): (my husband, my wife, my friend.)

Some great articles on French wine here 

How to speak about your wine.

 The sommelier has finished pouring a few drops of wine and waits for your approval before continuing filling up your glass, before serving the other glasses.  In this situation a few words are welcome either to express your satisfaction or in the opposite case, to point out wine flaws.

  •     C’est parfait merci. (It’s perfect thank you.)
  •     C’est un très bon choix merci. (It’s a very good choice thank you.)
  •     Il est un peu frais. (It’s a little bit cold.)
  •     Il faut le laisser tempérer. (It’s necessary to leave it to room temperature.)
  •     Est-ce que c’est possible de le mettre dans un sceau à glaces? (Is it possible to put it in a drink cooler? )
  •     Il est un peu trop chaud. (It’s a little bit too warm.)
  •     Il est bouchonné. (It’s corked.)
  •     Il est trop tannique. (It’s too tannic.)
  •     Il est fermé. (It’s closed.)
  •     Est-ce que vous pouvez nous changer la bouteille? (Could you change the bottle for us?)

A great YouTube video here outlines simple wine tasting etiquette.

Photo credit: Henry Fournier

Photo credit: Henry Fournier


A private wine tasting in easy French. Join us and an iconic wine merchant in Paris

If you love French wine and a French learner, we offer private wine tasting in easy French*. In an iconic wine merchant in Paris, we will learn the wine tasting process and practise with your French tutor the main French expressions related to wine tasting. You will not only improve your conversational French but also taste 3 different wines. Outdoors activities in Paris such as this one, are a fantastic way to work on your speaking skills with your private tutor and discover the secrets of French terroir.


*a pre-intermediate (A2) level is preferred for this activity


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