Some meanings of the preposition à require the definite article, others don’t.
- café au lait = coffee containing milk
- visite à l’américaine = American-style visit
- larmes aux yeux = tears at the eyes
- verre à vin = glass for wine
- bar à vins = bar for wine
Generally speaking, if you’d translate as for (i.e. if à expresses a purpose, a destination), then there is no article. Another case where there is no article is if à expresses a method — note that the distinction between method and ingredients (which do take an article) can occasionally be subtle. Objects made of distinguishable parts generally fall under the method case — the ingredients case is mostly for mixtures.
- bateau à vapeur = boat that operates with steam
- bateau à voile = boat that operates with a sail, boat one of whose parts is a sail
- verre à pied = glass one of whose parts is a stem
- verre de vin = glass of wine, glass containing wine
- planche de bois = plank entirely made of wood
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