"Conciliabule" or how to say Pow Wow in French + Family dynamics: living with adult kids and Grandma
"Regretfully" in French + to spin out of control + One of us moves out...

Name your favorite drink + What does the French “bredouille” mean in English? (Hint: it doesn't mean 'tipsy')

Jean-Marc at Le Vin Sobre wine shop epicerie in La Ciotat France
If you were to visit Jean-Marc's wine shop, what would you buy? Tell us your favorite wine, drink, or boisson in the comments section. It could make for a lively thread!

Today's Word: bredouille

    : empty-handed, unsuccessful

Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear today's word + a dozen more vocabulary words. Next, scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your comprehension.

Sound File, click here

by Kristi Espinasse
"A Surprise Visit"

Following Sunday’s grasse matinée, I felt lazy and tempted to skip church. Maybe I could go with Jean-Marc to his wine shop instead? It would only be for 3 hours, given the store’s open from 10-1 le dimanche. And it would give us some time together. Allez! On y va!

Setting my coat and purse on the tasting table at Le Vin Sobre, I turned to peruse the small épicerie fine when I heard my husband say the very thing I was thinking: Help tidy the tea section? 

Compte sur moi!”

After the teas were neatly line up I began to clean the glass windows behind which Jean-Marc stocks les produits fraisla poutargue, la pata negra, les boquerones, les fromages… A woman, her young son and their spirited cocker spaniel blew into the boutique along with a few fall leaves. “Bonjour Monsieur. Auriez-vous un Chenin Blanc?”

After Jean-Marc had rung up his first sale of the day and the trio had left, he shut the cash drawer with a flourish. “Comme ça on ne sera pas bredouille.” 

Bredouille? That sounds like a cool word . Répète-le.

“J’ai dit, ‘comme ça on ne rentrera pas bredouille’.”

Ah! Now I wasn't leaving ‘empty-handed’ either! I was going home with a new expression to share with readers!”

Ah, quand on parle du loup! Just then, two Francophiles from Boise, Idaho walked in... Susan introduced herself as a reader of my blog. She and Larry were leaving their rental in Cassis, and heading north to the quaint village of Sablet. What a chance meeting this was on the very day I was ditching church.

“C’est une double coïncidence,” Jean-Marc smiled, “because we don’t always open on Sundays.” With that, on a fait connaissance. I leave you, dear reader, with a snapshot of our chanceux encounter. And a warm remerciement to Susan and Larry, for all the wine you purchased. Là c’est certain, on ne rentrera pas bredouille! 

Post note: I was going to use the phrase “speak of the devil” to segue into the final part of the story about when my readers appeared. But then, yikes! I didn’t want to inadvertently refer to “readers” (or to Susan and Larry) as les diables! That’s when I learned the popular idiom: Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue (when you speak of the wolf, you'll see his tail). It means when you speak of someone they will appear). 

A Wine Odyssey...
This fall marks the 2-year anniversary of Jean-Marc's wine shop. Bravo, Chief Grape! My husband has come a very long way in his wine journey. Read about the ups and downs in our memoir, The Lost Gardens. 

Jean-marc wine odyssey
2007 at our first vineyard, "Chief Grape," who records all sound files for this blog. Merci, Chief!


la grasse matinée = to sleep in
le dimanche = Sunday
Allez! On y va! = come on, let’s go!
l’épicerie fine = delicatessen
Compte sur moi! = count on me!
les produits frais (m) = fresh food, refrigerated foods
la poutargue = a culinary specialty of Martigues, known elsewhere as “bottarga” (salted, cured fish roe)
la pata negra (“patte noir”) = Iberian ham
les boquerones = anchovies
le fromage = cheese
Bonjour Monsieur, Auriez-vous un Chenin Blanc = hello sir. Do you have a Chenin Blanc
Comme ça on ne sera pas bredouille = now we won’t be going home empty-handed
Quand on parle du loup, on en voit sa queue = when you speak of the wolf, you'll see his tail. 
C’est une double coïncidence = it’s doubly coincidental
on a fait connaissance  = we got to know each other
chanceux (chanceuse) = lucky
le remerciement = thank-you

Kristi, Larry, Susan, and Chief Grape

Bon weekend à tous. Don't forget to list your favorite wine or boisson in the comments, below. Merci! 

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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My favourite wine drink is Sangria!!


Langoustine, rosé, from Chateau de Manissy, near Tavel
Vieux vignes, rouge, from Domaine des Girasols, Rasteau

James Brown

We enjoy Cote Du Rhone - both red and some white. Locally we would buy Cote du Luberon from some of the vineyards around Bonnieux. I find Compari a nice addition to cocktails. The shop looks lovely. We are fortunate to have a smaller version within walking distance. However they offer mostly expensive wines - over $50 a bottle. I am quite happy with $15 unless it is a special occasion. Have a great weekend, best wishes…


Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinotage - Both from South African wine farms. After living in South Africa for about 50 years, my taste for French wine has diminished.

K.J. Laramie

Tres elegante! Congratulations!
Happy 2nd Anniversary!
Someday we’ll visit, with pleasure!
Delicious red wine, all, from everywhere!


So wonderful to have The Americans returning to visit France! La pandémie and its restrictions has been long!

Linda Frank

Pour moi mon préféré est le rosé!

Deborah Frost

What a wonderful story! And beautiful shop. Just the place I'd like to visit- but for now you charming blog must suffice.

Deborah Frost

it's so charming I forgot the "r" in you- pardón!

Sherry Frank

Always rose', especially if Jean Marc created it.

Debbie Lesser

Salut Kristi, Quant a moi, j'adore le sauvignon blanc de la Nouvelle Zealande ou le rose du sud de France. I would love to stop in Le Vin Sobre one day and just happen upon you and Jean-Marc together!

Suzanne Dunaway

Chateau de Tour and am trying again to send.

Sue Lennox

I like blends, cabs, Shiraz, most reds— hmmmmm, I don’t care for whites.


Champagne extra dry with St. Dalfour Royal Fig jam and bitters to toast a special occasion!



Al fresco dining in Provence – a refreshing rosé, such as Chateau Minuty, best drunk looking over the vineyards whilst dining at La Verdoyante at Gassin.

For red, a cabernet franc from Bourgueil (Domaine de Chevalier or Yannick Amirault)

And at any time of year a white Burgundy – Pouilly Fuissé (Chateau Fuissé is excellent), or if on a tighter budget then St Veran.


I'm enjoying Cab Franc these days, and I'm sure the store is stocked with Loire treasures!

Karen in NY

Cab Sauv most often. Rose for a treat. But open minded, really. My almost post pandemic (I hope) media seems full of food and wine subscription plans. How fun to find some of your wine and snax on my porch next to the cat food delivery. Just a thought. If I can afford it. Humble retiree here.

catherine taylor

When I’m feeling flush, Sancerre every time. I would love to visit the shop and have Jean Marc recommend some rosés and a red for my husband. One day, perhaps.

Suzanne Linebarger

Pour moi, j’adore les vins de Morgon et Fleurie. Sure début, in kir pétillant.


I love your newsletter, insight into French daily life and its ups and downs. I also hope to visit the wine shop the next time we travel to France. For now, we like our Napa Valley reds!

An Scott

Nice story. We regret that when we were traveling in the south of France, last month, we didn't make it to the wine shop. We simply ran out of time, in our list of "must sees", searching for a future town to call home, when my husband retires. But since we're planning a move to Nice (the winning city), within 2-2 1/2 years, we know we will certainly have other opportunities to stop by for some wine and conversation. ;-)


I LOVE Jean-Marc's wine stained shirt. Can you reproduce it and start selling them? I think they would sell like hotcakes!!!!


Our dear Kristi,
What a beautiful store!! So organized, sunny and bright that one just wants to spend hours perusing all the pretty things and then take most(all!) Of them home!!
You are so very lovely(as always!)-both of you!! And! Above all, healthy and happy in your lives.What a blessing and gift!
As for wine, we are now looking forward
to the Noveau Beaujolais!Yum!! That wonderful time of year!
Natalia. Xo

Laurence S

Nice to see Jean-Marc’s charming store. I should have tried to find it when I came to La Ciotat for a day outing with my brother who lives in Marseille.

My favorite would be Gewürztraminer, the finest dessert-type sweet white wine you can find (I speak German and can actually pronounce its name correctly! :). I also love Grand Marnier. We would not be great customers though as we have to be careful and drink very little alcohol. Though I am sure we would find great cheeses and also teas!

Catherine Nary

It was a 1.75 litre bottle ofJean-Marc's Chateauneuf du Pape (I think) I bought from you all when you had an afternoon at The Vineyard in Denver in September, 2018. I shared it with a high school girlfriend, her sister, and their mom in Colorado Springs for Mother's Day! And Kristi, you also signed the US Air Force Academy Library's copies of your books that we had, and mine, as well! One of my favorite memories ♥ of my time in Colorado (4 years, 4 months)! I'm at Travis Air Force Base as the hospital's medical librarian now, in Northern California, living on a golf course in Rio Vista, near the Sacramento River, halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. The base is about a half-hour's drive from Napa! Love it!

Karen kearney

Un Sincerre formidable.

Karen kearney


Kathleen Bidney

My favorite white is Sancerre, I love Rosé, Gigondas, Châteauneuf de Papes, Coté de Rhône’s. We love the French wines, but sometimes drink New Zélande, Austrian, South American and Spanish, but seldom if ever, Californian wines.


A big full bodied, creamy, butterscotch, oaky, long finish chardonnay. And with it I will take some of the other delicacies you seem to have in the shop. I will then take it down to the beach or sit under a tree and will be very happy.


Quand j'étais à Paris j'étais passionné des vins français, rouges ou blancs, et aussi les autres alcools français (cognac, eau de vie, marc...)
Maintenant je ne bois que les boissons sans alcool, principalement le thé vert.
Tchin tchin tout de même !


Wine: Aligote and sancerre.

My choice for a fantastic cocktail is The Last Word, which is made of equal parts Green Chartreuse, London dry gin, Luxardo (or other brand) maraschino cherry liquer and fresh lime juice. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake until well chilled and voila! The recipe I have calls for 3/4 oz of each ingredient, but I up it to 1 oz each and because I have only one, I drink it very slowly and savor every sip :)


The wine shop looks great.

I developed a taste for rosé during a month in Provence; for red, currently I’m enjoying Malbec.

Judy Feldman

I love a good rosé! Also Sauvignon Blancs in summer. Harold & I rented a wonderful house in Sablet several years ago. Hope your new friends like it, too!


I organised to get a selection of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru sent back home when we visited La Maison du Vin de Saint-Emilion a few years ago. I put them in my “cellar” and share a bottle each year on my birthday with family or friends. They are wonderful wines and worth taking the time to enjoy. It would be great to order a selection of wines hand-picked by Chief Grape. I will look on Le Vin Sobre La Ciotat website to see if I can place an overseas order. Our New Zealand wines are great to drink too but don’t quite match the depth and class of a well-aged vin rouge from France.

C'est Moi

Kir, without a doubt. Sometimes I ask for a kir and am given a kir royale instead, which is annoying since I wanted a kir (with white wine) darn it.

Patricia Sands

A smooth Sancerre sauvignon blanc, Merci!

Catherine Stock

Apérol and Campari. Love that expression, “ On ne sera pas bredouille”. Thank you.

Georgia Schall

Oh how I love Champagne! Thanks for asking! Tea is my favorite morning drink!


Moscato is the only wine I enjoy. Once a year. (A bottle lasts forever)

Linda S. Darsie

I just love the “Group Therapy” sign!

Gail Larson

My dear husband loves his cardboardonnay. Yup the big box variety :). I'm a bit more picky. A nice buttery Chardonnay from a real bottle.

Jennifer Taylor

My favorite cocktail is a French greyhound. Pink grapefruit juice, vodka and a bit of St Germaine, elderflower liqueur makes it French!
It’s dangerous. I didn’t like alcohol until I discovered this drink!

Dale Brady

picpol de pinet and moscato when I can find them


Ooo, good choice Teresa!!! I add lot's of cut up fresh fruit and mint leaves to mine. Cocktail-wise, I love a Sidecar, basically a brandy Marguerita, served up... invented at Harry's Bar, Paris, 1920.


I too love a fruity Sangria!!!😊❤

Susan Villiere

I cannot drink alcohol...but am looking forward to the non alcoholic '
GUINNESS that apparently on it's way.'

Joanne Fischer

Can’t wait to visit the wine shop …..someday we will return! Happy anniversary, Chief Grape!

My favorite drink is CHAMPAGNE ! 🍾🥂

Rob Tonkinson

I am curious about “Auriez-vous un Chenin Blanc?” Would asking “Vous Avez un Chenin Blanc?” Or “Avez-Vous un Chenin Blanc? Also be ok, or would that just be incorrect?

Rob Tonkinson

Oh and my favorite drink would be Chocolat Chaud.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Rob, yes, both those examples seem correct to me.

Valerie Porter

Domaine L'Amandine "Seguret"

Because our friends make it and I love it! But when not drinking alcohol, I love ma bete noire: Diet Dr. Pepper! Terrible!



I think the auriez-vous is more like "would you happen to have a Chenin Blanc."

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