I am sure you have heard the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”?
Well, I would like to say “When in France, go for a wine tasting!”
France is one of the world’s largest wine producers and exporters. Some say that they are number one, others number two, or even three, due to an exceptionally poor harvest in 2020. Never mind about that now. One thing is not debatable; France has many excellent wines, whether red, white, rosé, sparkling or fortified. There are approximately 2,900 wines.
No matter where you are in France, it’s never far from one of the 17 wine regions: Alsace, Armagnac and Cognac, Beaujolais and Lyonnais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Corsica, Jura, Languedoc, Lorraine, Poitou-Charentes, Provence, Roussillon, Savoie and Bugey, South-West, Loire Valley, and the Rhône Valley.
Whether you already found your favorite wine or are still looking for it, I highly recommend you to go for a few wine tastings. It is interesting and fun!
There are different types of dégustations (wine tastings) possible. Let’s take a look at some of the options you have.
Local wine bar or shop
If you don’t have a car, or feel like staying in your town, you could find a local restaurant, bar, or a cave (a wine shop, not a cave) that offers wine tastings. Most of them carry wines from all over France, but they do tend to put the emphasis on locally grown wines. Some of them offer organized wine tastings and others just let you try one or two different wines before ordering your glass. Some even serve food or tapas.
At the vineyard
A very nice way to try wine is to visit the actual vineyard or domaine! It is a lovely experience to see where the grapes grow, the charming old stone buildings, and of course to meet with the people behind the delicious wine. Being able to ask them questions about the growing and making of the end product is very educational. Each vineyard has its own history and getting to know about them during the tasting makes the wine even better. It is customary to buy a couple of bottles after the tasting, but beware, it is easy to buy more bottles than you had set out to. But hey, it’s not like the wine will pass its “best before date” any time soon.
If you decide to do the visits on your own, it is always better to contact the vineyard beforehand to make sure they are open and have time to greet you. You can always ask for a little tour of their grounds, and if they have time, I am sure they will give you one.
Wine tasting tours
If you prefer to not go on your own, there are many companies that specialize in wine tasting tours. You won’t have as much freedom as going on your own, but you won’t have to worry about drunk driving, either. Contact the Office de Tourisme, who are always happy to help, or look for a wine tasting tour operator online.
If you find yourself out driving in the countryside near a wine region one day, and pass a vineyard, make a stop and go in. Most vineyards are open during the weekends during the low season and every day during the summer months. During the harvest period in September, it might be tricky to find a vineyard that has the time for tastings, but you can always ask!
However you end up tasting your wine, in a cave or at a vineyard, you will surely hear about the 4 different characteristics to describe the wine. Wine growers often speak of la douceur, l’acidité, les tanins, et le corps (sweetness, acidity, tannin, and body). Make use of the tasting to get to know the different characteristics, and determine which one your pallet prefers.
A votre santé!
Please find below some interesting wine related links
I grew up in the southern part of Sweden, where the eye meets Denmark and the Hamlet castle Kronborg only 4 kilometers away. I have spent the major part of my adult years in our beautiful capital Stockholm. In 2004 we packed up the family, i.e. my husband, our two, now adult children, a guinea pig and me and moved to Basel, Switzerland. We stayed for 3 years and then returned to Stockholm again. In 2018 we decided that it was time for a new adventure, this time we moved here, in Montpellier, and settled in the city center. We absolutely love it, even though it can be a challenge sometimes. Since the children still live in Sweden, we visit every now and then and they come here to enjoy the French life in the sun. I have experience from both the retail and the production industry, where I have focused on customer service and logistics for the last 10 years. I speak Swedish, English, some French, German and Danish. It is well known that the French way of doing things are not always the way one would expect, but it is their way. I hope that I will have the opportunity to assist you settling here in France.
All articles by: Ann-Lii De Maré