When a wine is composed of multiple varietals (types of grapes) we usually refer to it as a blend, while the French refer to this mix as an assemblage. There’s an interesting difference in connotation that might help you develop relationships with your new community when you come to France.
You see, making friends in a new place isn’t about blending in. Blending sort of implies a homogeneity. I think that expats who come to France and try to “act French” end up looking ridiculous and alienating more people than they befriend.
Assemblage, that has a different connotation. The varietals work together. They’ve been assembled, but one isn’t necessarily dissolved into the other. It’s about using the unique qualities of both grapes to arrive at a new and different wine.
So don’t be scared to be different. But make sure you use your differences to help those around you. Once people realize that your weird eccentricities can be a benefit to them. Even the most diehard isolationists will open up once they see what’s in it for them.
Something to think about! Don’t blend in. Assemble.
Ryan O’Connell, host of Love That Languedoc and winemaker at Domaine O’Vineyards.