France is well known for its wine, and from my time here these past few months, I’m finding that Parisians casually meet for “une verre de vin” like how people in other countries go grab a cup of coffee or tea.
I posted in a Facebook French-English conversation group in search of a tandem conversation partner, and was surprised that four people messaged me with an invitation to meet “pour un verre”. I wasn’t sure if alcohol in my system would be a good idea when trying to focus on correct conjugations and feminine and masculine forms that don’t exist in English… However I guess it’s just a way of life for them and something they’re used to. Price wise it’s super cheap, and on a restaurant set menu it often costs the same as soda! Decent ones can even be found at the grocery store for 6€ or at one of the many neighbourhood wine shops.
But wine accessibility aside, as preluded in my post title, how do you handle this abundance of wine when you have the Alcohol Flush Reaction, also known as the Asian glow? If you don’t know what this phenomenon is, I’ll let this buzzfeed video explain it to you.
For others, wine produces pleasant reactions… but for me it’s not fun when my body is having a slight allergic reaction with symptoms of a flushed red face, quickened heart rate and growing headache. Yet I want to immerse myself in the culture, be polite and join in social activities. It’s hard to say no especially when the wine offered is a regional speciality that the host is proud of and insistent that you at least give it a try.
Below are three scenarios and some solutions that I’ve experienced and proposed for any others who can not partake in wine, or you can view for your entertainment:
1. You’re at the office or a party, and wine is offered. Everyone is drinking to socialize and celebrate, and you don’t want to ruin the mood by saying “non, merci” or explaining the science behind the Asian glow. => Go ahead, enjoy some wine but know your alcohol limit (for me that’s one glass). Make sure to do so with equal amounts of water and food (if not more!). It’s a great excuse to eat more food (yes, it does pair well with cheese) in order to lessen my blood alcohol content. Maybe if you’re lucky, people will think you have a nice healthy rouge, or a cute blush.
=> OR attempt to look classy and drink, take some sips, maybe a few Instagram photos, but don’t drink all of it! (Sorry co-workers, I’ve snuck into the kitchen not only for more food, but also to dump the rest of my glass down the sink. Good thing it was cheap anyways.
2. You’re invited to a party or picnic where you can drink or bring along some wine: =>Substitute – explore the non-alcoholic section of the grocery store, there’s a lot of sparkling juice in pretty bottles if you want the look of a fancy wine bottle. As long as you have something in your hand, often people won’t know that it’s not alcohol. Psstt- the picture on the left has the celebratory feel of champagne, but is really just apple juice.
3. Someone proposed you go out for un verre de vin with them =>It’s their way of going out. You can propose an alternative and explain the phenomenon for their amusement. It could go well, or they want to see you drink to see you turn red.
What matters is that you’re socializing and having a good time, and this is possible without alcohol. Remember that you’re not alone, there’s also people in France who also choose to not drink alcohol for personal or religious reasons. I was able to find a conversation partner as displayed in the photo above we’ve gone out for tea, coffee and oh course, french macarons- thank goodness I’m not allergic to macarons!