What is Pastis?

A. The French word for “shatter”—that is, the failure of grapes to develop because the flowers that would have become the grapes remained unfertilized

B. A rough-and-ready workingman’s wine, notably drunk in bars in Burgundy

C. A licorice-flavored French liqueur with a cloudy greenish-yellow color

D. The general Italian term for wines made from grapes that have been intentionally dried by laying out the clusters on straw mats or hanging them up in special drying rooms


God forbid you find yourself in a café in southern France this summer and not in the mood to drink rosé. But just in case, there is another famous, well-loved libation that’s famous in that area—Pastis, a mild licorice-flavored liqueur served as an aperitif with a carafe of ice water. (Pastis gets its licoricey flavor from star anise.) When the water is added to the pastis, the drink immediately turns ominously cloudy. (A related more strongly flavored liqueur—Absinthe—gets its licoricey flavor from a substance once, but no longer, banned–wormwood). As for (A), the failure of grapes to be fertilized, that is known as coulure in French. A rustic wine served in Burgundy’s bars (B) is called passetoutgrains and is a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. And answer D is the definition of the Italian term passito.

Get WineSpeed

Join tens of thousands of other wine lovers. Get each week’s edition of WineSpeed delivered to your inbox every Friday. It’s fast. It’s free. It’s the smartest way to stay up to speed on wine.
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Be sure to check your inbox to confim your subscription.