Vines at sunset with a typical red provençal sky in December 06
A Frenchman's photo fit for a French wine label? Well, that was a mouthful. But will it make an eyeful?

French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student... Check out the book, here.

un avis (ah-vee) noun, masculine
   1.  opinion; notice; advice

[From Old French "ce m'est à vis" ("this seems good to me")]

Je donne mon avis non comme bon mais comme mien.
I give my opinion, not as right, but as mine.
--Michel de Montaigne

Jean-Marc and I are seated at a sushi bar in Aix-en-Provence. Each time the waiters appear (only to collect more hand rolls or sashimi) we must duck our heads as trays of sushi pass over us. The bar, after all, doubles as a wait station. The waiters are busy waiting...and so are we.

It will be a long time until our order arrives. I try to cool a cup of boiling green tea with a few puffs of air. Meantime, Jean-Marc has pulled out his portable phone and is thumbing over the buttons.
"Jean-Marc!" I protest. "We can't check email here!"

I remember back to when my husband stood in as sommelier at a gastronomic restaurant. Arriving home smelling like a roast duck in a cigar shop, he told me about how one of the diners, portable phone in hand, checked email throughout the meal. Realizing my Frenchman's shock (for eating is an art in France and not a three-ring high-tech circus) I made another mental note, this time about how to behave in a French restaurant.

I wonder about hypocrisy and cultural pride as I watch my husband check email. Well, we weren't eating...not yet at least...and we weren't exactly in France (but sort of in Japan, never mind that the Japanese waiters were speaking French). I pushed my chopsticks aside and quickly rooted through my purse for my own phone. I was just as eager as Jean-Marc to see the results of Friday's wine label poll. While I checked the website for percentages (noting that 44 percent of voters preferred the "red/blue" label), Jean-Marc read the comments as they arrived into his inbox.

The feedback was eye-opening. As for the labels, the three prototypes were described as anywhere from "eye-catching" to....

"... simple... forgettable... quirky... intriguing... [expletive].... odd... enfantine*... contemporary... [expletive]... cheap... cute... cartoonish... California... fussy... beurk*... tasteful... modern... belle... ugly... amateurish... ordinary... avant-garde... traditional... harsh... nice... drab... [expletive]... fresh... busy... hard... fly-by night... attirante*... rustic... homemade... young... too much..."

...and--last but not least--reminiscent of "Two Buck Chuck".

I put down my phone and turn to my distracted date. "Do you know what Two Buck Chuck means?"
Jean-Marc, putting his phone away, says "I do."
"You're not making Two Buck Chuck are you?"
"OK, then. Back to the drawing board!"

                        *   *   *

Read some of the comments that we received, and be sure to add your own, over at Jean-Marc's blog:

If you haven't voted yet, please help us out by taking the Wine Label Poll (at the end of this post). Mille mercis for your avis!*

References: enfantin(e) = childish; beurk = yuck!; attirant(e) = attractive; un avis (m) = opinion

Rosetta Stone French - the award-winning method used by NASA and the Peace Corps
We drink way too much of this in summertime: Grenadine / Pomegranate Syrup.
Don't miss the soundtrack to Les Choristes
Caudalie Scrub Trio: A set of three petite sizes of the Vinotherapie Spa signature scrubs

:: Audio File ::
Je donne mon avis non comme bon mais comme mien.
MP3 file: Download avis.mp3
Wave file: Download avis.wav

  à mon avis = in my opinion
  changer d'avis =  to change one's mind
  donner son avis = to give one's opinion
  un avis amical = some friendly advice
  un avis au lecteur = a short preface to a book
  sauf avis contraire = unless otherwise indicated

                     The Wine Label Poll
Note: the first label was made by a graphic artist--the second and third were pasted together by Jean-Marc during a brainstorming session. Leave your comments (and read others' opinions here).

Rb_0807 Rb_0807_2 Moon

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety