How not to be a snob

I rarely feel more typically English than on my annual buying trip to Burgundy. It isn't just that my warmest coat – essential for surviving in near-freezing cellars – happens to scream 'urbanite from abroad', and nor is it the number of other British merchants one bumps into there in the second half of November, a constant reminder of our shared alien origin. No, the thing that makes me feel most English is my feeble grasp of French.

I am fortunate to travel with a colleague who, thanks to a ten-year stint as head sommelier in a three-star restaurant near...