All girls love Montbazillac in Paris.
My fellow wine lovers, I have a confession to make. For many years, I was a sinner. I sinned at parties. New Year parties, birthday parties, and, oh my! Even at dinner parties.
Yes, indeed, I admit it: I was a bad French. Instead of getting to know the rich and subtle wine culture that makes my country proud, I tasted one wine when I was 17, and I stubbornly stuck with it for about a decade.
That wine was a Montbazillac. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Montbazillac wines per say. They are the emblem of the Bergerac terroir. On its official website, the Montbazillac appellation proclaims itself “the greatest sweet wine in the world”, and that sounds just right to me. Its golden color, its powerful aroma, its honeyed aftertaste all make it a perfect choice to accompany a dessert, or even a cheese plate.
But come on. For years, I would bring a Montbazillac bottle to any reunion with my girl friends. That meant Montbazillac with salad. Montbazillac with sushi. Montbazillac at students’ parties, paired with Pringles chips. And, inevitably, Montbazillac hangovers, which are akin to having caught diabetes overnight.
Nevertheless, we persisted. Not just me, but my partners in crime as well - which, at some point, seemed to include all the 20-something girls in Paris. I did notice a pattern for the first time when a (guy) friend, dejected to find nothing but sweet golden goodness at a “girl power” themed party, wondered aloud: “Why is it that all girls love Montbazillac, anyway?”
Personally, I blame marketing. In Paris, a decent bottle sells at about 9€. Not the cheapest choice, yet affordable, even on a student’s budget. Fancy enough to bring as a gift.
But the commitment goes beyond that. It’s all about finding a compromise. In France, tweens finding their way to adulthood feel the pressure of appearances. You live in Paris, often on your own, away from your parents. Life is exciting! You meet new people, at picnics on the banks of the Seine, in bars - when you can afford it. You need to play it cool. You need to look like you actually have opinions and experience about alcohol.
Yet your budget is all but limitless. You cannot afford too many faux-pas. Especially if you are a girl. Yup, in 21st century Paris, a lady ordering a beer is still considered tasteless. The choice left is a 15€ mojito, or a 7€ glass of sweet deliciousness that also makes you look classy.
This is how Montbazillac came to be associated with some of the best memories of my twenties. A comfort zone that served as a base while I was debuting my adult life.
We all grew out of it, eventually. As me and my girl friends gained confidence, we experimented with the rest of the drinks menu. We found out that, with wine culture as with any thing, your true persona is not just what you feel more comfortable with. It’s about discovering yourself, pushing your limits, reaching your full potential. But while we now reserve Montbazillac bottles for special meals and inside jokes, we keep walking on the path of self-achievement we started with them.