Le vin pleure.

Le vin pleure.

luh vaa PLUHR. Click below to hear this.*

The wine has legs.

What kind of anthropomorphism is this? Wine that weeps, wine that has legs?

Wine does have a kind of life: it starts as grapes, and metamorphoses into wine in the hands of the vintner, who exercises a kind of magic over it.

But it’s not until the wine is poured into the glass that we begin to learn its qualities.

You’ve seen people stick their nose deeply into the wine glass and inhale. (It’s not necessary to insert one’s whole nose into the glass, Some things can be overdone.) The wine’s aroma, called its bouquet, gives them a first impression of what the taste will be.

Next, the visual clues. Hold the glass up, observe the hue. Is it pale or deeply colored? White is not just “white”, of course: is it tinged with lime, gold, sand, orange? And red is not just red: is it clear and jewel-like, or deep, almost purple?

And now, its substance: gently tilt the glass, roll in around once, right the glass again. (Don’t try swirling the glass by its base on the table. That takes practice, and goal is not to slosh the wine out of the glass.) Did the wine coat the sides of the glass? Can you see it running down the inside of the glass, a row of teardrops, each leaving a long track behind? In French, le vin pleure, the wine is weeping. That’s a sign of a sturdy wine, not watery but not syrupy either. In English, we say The wine has legs.

All of that comes before you even taste the wine. Eating and drinking, to a French person, are aesthetic experiences, and an opportunity to take one’s time. Slow down, appreciate it, savor it. Life is to be treasured.

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:

le_vin_pleure.mp3

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