How to sound like a local: French slang for the Burgundy wine routes
If you’re planning a trip to France and haven’t yet mastered the language of love, it’s always a good idea to learn some words and phrases ‘en francais’ before you go. But if you want to sound more like a local and less like a tourist, our advice is to pick up some ‘argot’ (slang), of which there is plenty.
French slang is as varied as English so here is our selection to keep up your sleeve while traveling along the wine routes of Burgundy. And if all else fails, remember at Secret Wine Tour, all our tours are available in English so don’t worry, we have your back!
‘Apéro’, short for ‘apéritif’, is sacred in France and if you spend enough time around the French, you are bound to hear the phrase ‘C’est l’heure de l’apéro!’ (It’s time for a drink!). It’s usually served before dinner with finger food but it can also be a full meal. If it’s a full meal, it’s called an ‘apéro dînatoire’.
This can mean a couple of things in French but when in Burgundy (or any wine region for that matter) it’s highly likely that ‘le canon’ is referring to a bottle of wine or a drink. What you might hear: ‘Alors, on s’envoie un autre canon?’ (So, shall we throw back another drink?).
‘Glou-glou’ has become an adjective for any type of wine (mostly red) that is easy to drink. The term translates to ‘glug-glug’ in English and refers to the sound of liquid leaving the bottle or the sound a person might make when gulping liquid. What you might hear: ‘Il est trés bon ce vin! Tellement glou-glou’ (This wine is really good! So easy to drink).
The origins of this word date back to the 19th century, when Italian-run taverns in France would sell small glasses of wine, known as ‘piccolos’. Today, however, it means to have drunk well and usually in great quantity too. It comes from ‘la picole’, which is another word for booze. What you might hear: ‘Ils ont picolé du vin toute la soirée’ (They boozed on wine all evening).
This word was originally for wine on the cheaper side but it is now used more widely for wine in general. Other slang that you may come across for wine includes: ‘le picrate’, ‘le jaja’ and ‘la bibine’. What you might hear: ‘On ouvre une bonne bouteille de pinard?’ (Shall we open a good bottle of wine?).
Initially, when you hear the word ‘la quille‘ in French, people might think of a bowling pin, but this word can also refer to a wine bottle due to its specific shape. When out and about in France, you may come across a ‘cave les quilles‘ which is a wine merchant. What you might hear: ‘Énorme cette quille!’ (How awesome is this bottle!).
You probably already know that ‘santé’ and ‘à la votre/à la tienne’ is the equivalent of ‘cheers’ in English but you may have also heard the French say ‘tchin-tchin’ while raising their glasses. This phrase originates from the Chinese saying ‘qing, qing’ which means ‘please, please’ and is an informal way to toast in French.
If you know of any more French wine slang, we’d love to hear from you so please share in the comments below!