The Word on the Street Is . . . Vernissage

Word on the StreetWhat do you call wine, cheese, grapes, and a smattering of conversation pieces? In most of North America, it is called an art opening, or simply an opening. On the island of Montreal, however, the word of choice by Anglos is the French term vernissage.

The English pronunciation of the word swings dramatically from the American interpretation of verni (rhymes with Bernie) + sage (like the plant) to the more French-sounding ver (rhymes with hair) + ni (rhymes with see) + sage (rhymes with entourage), and everything in between.

The word vernissage dates back to the days when painters sporting berets would brush the final coat of varnish on their work before the great unveiling. Today’s vernissages attract a nice mix of those who came for the art and those who came for the free wine and cheese.



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