French Dining Manners

May 4th, 2004, 03:33 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 802
Sod it, you've paid for it, drink it! Anyway, you're on holiday, you're not going to see them again. Personally if I was in the restaurant I'd be more perturbed by somebody NOT finishing off the bottle during their meal than the fact that they'd taken it out with them.... but enough of my drinking habits!! Just have a lovely time and enjoy some fabulous food and wine!

Tallulah is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 03:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 235
Watching these boards is like watching a bunch of Star Trek nerds argue over who is the bigger chick magnet.

Lighten up, people.

Here's a real news flash: genuinely sophisticated and cultured people don't cruise websites of mid-priced travel guides badmouthing other posters with their obnoxious snobbery. Or is that really you, Prince Rainier? The level of narcissism displayed here on a daily basis is nothing short of astonishing.

Here's another news flash: Posters you disagree with are not the equivalent of the Secret Police taking you to the gulag. Beria? Seriously?

QC is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 03:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I've never done this and in fact, have never seen it done anywhere in France or here in Belgium. Perhaps they are doing it *now* due to the info in the article cited above, but it hasn't been a common thing to do, especially in better restaurants.
It's not uncommon for restaurants to get a "kickback" of sorts from wine sellers for the corks (less common now than it used to be though) and there may be a deposit on the bottle (pennies, but still...) so you may find the restaurateur somewhat reluctant to let you abscond with the bottle. If you really want to take the bottle, turn on all your charm, big smile, compliments on the wine, the food, the ambience, and how you just can't finish it at the moment but can't bear to let it go, etc. etc.
Overall, though, siding with baldrick on this one so QC, I guess you can mark me down as just another unsophisticated, uncultured traveler ;-)
FYI, QC, are you including yourself in that category of the great unwashed since you post here too?
BTilke is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 04:25 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 637
we were in paris in april and faced the same dilemma (once). we just asked the very kind waiter, in "frenglish," if we could take the bottle, and he came back and popped the cork in it. no bag necessary.

it can't hurt to ask . . . just be polite.
melissa19 is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 05:36 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 250
Being an American (and a wino) I've done this (only when in a hotel restaurant, and asking them to deliver it to our room). Being French, my husband was horrified -- but did enjoy a glass of wine in the room later!
babette is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 05:51 AM
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"Here's a real news flash: genuinely sophisticated and cultured people don't cruise websites of mid-priced travel guides..."

QC, how wrong you are. And, since you made such a foolish statement, I have to assume you don't know any sophisticated and cultured people which says a lot about you and your noticeable lack of education in social manners.

I conducted my own survey in the past year, or so, and interviewed about 100 prominently successful Mahattanites on the subject of travel forum use. Over 50% said they used fodors forum for research but most had no desire to register and post here. Before I started my own research project, I fell into this same camp.

Nobody needs to belong to a Royal Family to be cultured and sophisticated. All anyone needs is a sincere respect for education and civilized behavior. Anyone can acquire this, regardless of social class or income. Reading books is a great way to learn and God bless America for libraries.

baldrick's smaller survey proves a simple point: the concept of less is more is a difficult one for many Americans to swallow. Diners whose eyes and wallets are bigger than their stomachs have not learned how to dine in a sophisticated manner. Those who wish to further take their purchases from their table as a result of over-purchasing are just plain uncouth and inelegant. #39;(

As for agaKahn, her competitive and defensive rants here on fodors speak volumes. Nothing more needs to be said.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 06:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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"Those who wish to further take their purchases from their table as a result of over-purchasing are just plain uncouth and inelegant."

(Disclaimer: There will always be exceptions and an educated consumer will handle these appropriately.)
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 06:02 AM
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If you lack self-confidence and/or worry to excess about what people you don't know think, then follow the pompous advice of high and mighty wesley - be a good little robot and play the silly snob game.

I'll laugh at you thirsty people later while drinking the rest of my wine.
May 4th, 2004, 06:10 AM
Posts: n/a
I'm not being snobbish here, but just being practical in enjoying the finer things in life whenever I can and whenever I'm in France.

I'll probably be laughing harder when I buy and open a fresh bottle of wine while I watch you drink your stale bottle.
May 4th, 2004, 06:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,642
Why not take the path of least resistance? As soon as you're seated and receive your menus, ask for a glass of the house red or white (whatever you're in the mood for). If you like it, keep drinking it by verre/carafe/pichet, problem solved! If it's not what you want, check the half bottles list first. A lot of good wines are available in France by the half bottle. Then if nothing catches your fancy...then ask the waiter for advice (the French love to advise, esp. on matters of food, wine, and style). Explain you're the only wine drinker in your family (sighing that is their loss as you are in a country with such wonderful wine) and would love to order such and such, but you know you won't be able to finish it...would there be any objection to taking the rest with you? For all their apparent extravagance, a vein of frugality runs through the French psyche.
By the way, what's the policy in the U.S. these days? If you don't finish your wine in an American restaurant (assuming it's not a BYOB), are you free to leave with the unfinished bottle?
BTilke is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 06:33 AM
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If you ordered a carafe of wine and didn't finish it, should you ask the waiter for a "to-go" cup?
Budman is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 07:05 AM
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In New York City, it is against the law to carry an open container of liquor onto the street. Therefore, sophisticated or not, diners have no choice but to leave any excess behind, whether they brought it themselves or not.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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The rule in NYC is frequently flouted though.

I remember reading some funny articles last year -- I think it was on CNN -- that people at a rock concert in Central Park were handled summons for drinking beer, whereas people at a classical music concert (opera in the Park? Philharmonic in the park?) drinking wine were not. This was presented as evidence of Bloomberg's (the mayor's) snobbery.

A bit of a stretch, no doubt, but amusing nonetheless. My friends and I have certainly drunk wine in the Park without problems. We've in fact snuck wine bottles into the Met Opera and inbibed while watching opera.

Again, as I said, do what you please. As long as you're courteous and don't draw attention to yourself, people around you have other more important things to worry about.
111op is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 07:22 AM
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Taking open containers (that could come from anywhere, including home) to a park concert is a bit different from leaving a restaurant with the bottle of wine ordered...are restaurants offering to let patrons leave with their unfinished wines these days?
BTilke is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Well, BT, I've never done it myself, so honestly I don't know. But there're places in NYC that are BYOB, so presumably if that's the case, then they can't have anything against your bringing your unfinished wine with you. As for a more upscale restaurant, I'm not sure what the restaurant would do. I'd like to think of it this way -- in an ideal situation, as long as a customer is not outrageous, the restaurant should keep him/her happy. I cannot imagine why a restaurant would not let a customer carry an unfinished bottle away. After all, my impression is that in the US it's much more common to ask for doggy bags to take your leftovers away -- why should it be any different for wine? If I feel that what I'm asking to do is not out of the ordinary, and the restaurant is not sufficiently obliging, I'll make it a note not to return to the restaurant. Life is too short to worry about trifles like these.

111op is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 07:33 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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For heavens' sakes, just take it with you! Bringing your own vacuum stopper is a great suggestion!

And, when you see that bubble arising from the top of the head of the diner at the next table, with the words "How tacky" enclosed in the bubble - just put on a big American grin and wave the stoppered bottle at him! I would.

BTW, wherever we are in the world, we tend to finish our bottle while dining, so that must mean we are sophisticated. Sometimes, we have to order a second bottle - which means we must be doubly sophisticated.

easytraveler is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 08:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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"I cannot imagine why a restaurant would not let a customer carry an unfinished bottle away."

The abundance of hubris and bad advice on internet travel forums is astounding. And, the continued proliferation of selfish and arrogant, I'll-do-as-I-please type consumers is scary. No wonder the breakdown of gracious manners is so prevalent these days.

It seems clear to me that 111op has never paid $250 an hour for a smart attorney's advice because there are serious ramifications for any business owner with a liquor license who gets caught breaking the rules. One works too hard to be so careless and self-destructive.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 08:07 AM
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NYCFS, I think that decorum breaks down when you twist the spirit of what I'm saying. Worry not -- I've better things to do than to fight with you on this forum.

Ok, I haven't paid $250 an hour for an attorney's advice. So what? At least I don't go gaga over $250 for a pair of jeans. If I haven't seen much at least I can claim I'm not yet 40. Still pretty far from it, in fact.
111op is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 08:07 AM
Posts: n/a
easytraveler, I sure like your style.

yawning, if you buy that additional bottle of wine, you sure better finish it all in one sitting. The French hate seeing half-empty bottles of Pink Passion or Red Ripple on the sidewalk.
May 4th, 2004, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 8,862
Ok -- to get back to civility a bit -- regarding poor advice, etc.

I'd like to say the following. I've posted a link to a Times article that carrying a bottle of unfinished wine away is perfectly acceptable in France. Someone else has done the same. This is fact, not fiction. Take it or leave it.

Regarding my advice and experience with NYC, I think that my postings again speak for themselves. Where's the bad advice?

111op is offline  

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