How To Bring French Holiday Traditions Home

The Thrill Of Hope…A Weary World Rejoices

I have a theory about the winter holidays, no matter one’s faith or origin: We need them to warm up our hearts. 

I am a certified yoga teacher (in the Iyengar method) and one thing I’ve learned as an instructor is that people are anxious. I estimate that most of my students, at one time or another, considered anxiety a problem in their lives. They came to yoga to escape that feeling, a sense of looking ahead and plotting course against fear and worry.

The holidays seem to provide some element of respite from living in dread. Why? Because the holiday season permits us to pause and enjoy, to savor, to think of others besides ourselves.

That warm feeling is ephemeral, but it is so wholesome and we hope to fill up on it during winter holidays in order to thrive throughout the year. But what if there are other ways of sustaining simple joy? 

I Haven’t Had A Drink All Morning, But I’m All Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree

There is something in the French culture that I’d like to borrow. It’s the idea of wine as an element of something bigger. A meal, a livelihood, a community, a legacy, a nation.

You’ll hear lots of people tell you that a glass of wine helps them relax, but let’s use the holidays to release the idea that we need the numbing benefits of alcohol to soothe us. Let’s instead take each sip and reflect on the earth that gave it life, the hands that gave it style, the families that earned a living and now sit in their homes, enjoying the benefits of the sale.

I recently read that a bottle of wine (it was Sekt from Germany, but still useful in this context) had 55 touchpoints…that the family that made it had been in intimate contact with your wine 55 times. Use that connection to appreciate what a joy it is to have wine in our lives.

Someday Soon We All Will Be Together, If The Fates Allow

Our French Winophiles group writes together each month and I’m reminded of the losses and gains we’ve all had. Family members now in heaven, grandchildren born—age and time have their way of wheeling the cycle of life out of our individual grasp, reminders that a grand existence breathes through all of us but doesn’t settle down. 

If this seems emotional, then perhaps it’s true…I look back on wine bottles that I’ve shared with my husband, our families and our friends and I treasure those moments. What wouldn’t we do to share that bottle of Pinot Grigio on the boat again, or to break the light fixture with that wayward cork from that bottle of bubbly just one more time? 

There is a beautiful tradition in Provence (more on it here) where the youngest and oldest person in the family light the fire together, choosing a log that represents the passing of the year and the transition into a new one. It happens on Christmas Eve with a meager yet abundant meatless meal. How lovely to acknowledge that we all have a role, in all stages of life. 

We’ll Take A Cup Of Kindness Yet

This month I introduce four wines from around France, each chosen to evoke the French holiday season in your home. I recently wrote about Provençal Christmas Eve traditions, and I invite you to choose one or two elements to bring into your home…but more importantly, let’s all choose to slow it down and recognize what blessings we have, to share a wine that travels the globe to be a part of our special moments.

Make your Christmas Eve magnifique with this French tradition.

Drappier NV Brut Nature Zero Dosage Pinot Noir ($57)

Brut Nature implies that there is no dosage, so expect a rich, dry 100% Pinot Noir Champagne in this bottle. 

Coume del Mas Quadrature 2016 ($27)

This wine comes from Collioure, an appellation in Occitanie (Languedoc-Roussillon) near Baynuls. It’s made of high-altitude, old vine Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan. 

Château de Tracy Pouilly-Fume 2017 ($27)

This Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc is traditional to the region, an iconic taste that is fresh yet dense with flavor at once.

Château Haut Selve 2015 Graves ($25)

A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine would be a great candidate for a few more years of age, however, its structure and balance of acid and tannin are good to go now as well.

The French Winophiles

 Joyueses Fêtes! / Happy Holidays 

We hope you’ll join us on Twitter to chat about French Holiday style, featuring the wines of Vignobles & Signatures—8am PT, 11 am ET, and 5pm in France. It’s easy to participate: just log in to Twitter at the times mentioned and follow #Winophiles. Feel free to chime in, making sure to append #Winophiles to your tweets so we can welcome you.

Here’s a preview of what each writer will contribute to the discussion:

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla whips up “A French #Winophiles Fête: Foie Gras, Pain d’Épices & Champagne Drappier”

Here on  L’OCCASION we share “How To Bring French Holiday Traditions Home”

Gwen at WinePredator has “Season’s Greetings French-Style”

Wendy at A Day In The Life On The Farm gives us “A Holiday Gathering with French Foods and Wines”

Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog  shares “A Taste of French Inspired Holiday Food and Wine”

Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells writes about “Ants Climb a Tree with French Wine”

Lauren at The Swirling Dervish tells us about Parisian Holiday: A Few of My Favorite Things”

Michelle of Rockin Red Blog writes about A French-Inspired Holiday Alsatian Style”

Kat from Bacchus Travel and Tours writes about Noel en Provence

Jeff from foodwineclick discusses “What is French-Style Season?”

Payal writes at Keep The Peas shares “Bonnes Fêtes à la #winophiles”

Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles entices us with Un repas de Noël pour les fêtes de fin d’année (A Christmas Dinner for the end of the year celebrations)…with wine #Winophiles”

David Crowley from CookingChat shares “Festive Pairings for Pouilly-Fumé and Other Special French Wine #winophiles

Lyn writes at L.M. Archer  tells us about The Hedonistic Taster: French-Style Season Edition”

Jane cooks things up at Always Ravenous shares “A French-Inspired Winter Dinner”

Nicole from Somms Table shares Crocus l’Atelier Malbec de Cahors with Château Mercuès Saffron Chicken Soup

Liz from What’s In That Bottle tells us how toFrenchify Your Festivities with Fun Wines

Rupal from Journeys of a Syrah Queen shares French Inspired Holiday Wines”

Our host Lynn on Savor the Harvest shares how to “Give a Little Touche Française to Your Holiday #Winophiles“.

Please note that I received this wines as media samples, but all opinions are my own and this post isn’t sponsored or paid in any way.

21 thoughts on “How To Bring French Holiday Traditions Home

  1. What a lovely article Jill! Slowing down, reflecting, treasuring, sharing. It’s not a coincidence I’m reminded about these things at this very moment. Wishing you a joyful and serene holiday!


  2. Ahh Jill. You post has made me feel joyful, grateful and nostalgic. Thanks for bringing all this back to the heart.
    I love the touchpoints
    “55 touchpoints…that the family that made it had been in intimate contact with your wine 55 times.”
    On a separate note…how wonderful that you teach Iyengar! It was the first Yoga I studied, my instructor had spent a great deal of time studying with BKS himself. I love that this method is meant for all people, regardless of flexibility at the start, it is so inclusive, which seems to embody the just of this piece.
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday!


  3. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to describe the season – and the benefits of slowing ourselves down for a bit. I’m still digesting a lot of what happened in 2018, so your advice is right on point for me. Thanks for that. Happy holidays to you and your family, Jill!


  4. Beautiful post Jill. The holidays are a time to pause, reflect, and count the many blessings we have. Love that you are a yoga instructor, my daughter just got her 200 hour certificate. Happy Holidays!!!


  5. Very interesting post! I liked the part about the 55 touch points a bottle of wine can have. Never thought of that, and it makes so much sense to rethink about wine this way for the holidays!


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