filed in beaujolais, Events, Wine Tasting on Feb.14, 2013
There are plenty of superstitions related to eating. Some are well known such as spilling salt which brings back luck or the pulling of a wishbone with your little finger. Yesterday I found out about another one with a romantic theme, the perfect one to keep in mind on Valentine’s Day.
Last night whilst having dinner the waitress poured the last drops of our carafe of wine into my friend’s glass. She started laughing and told me about this French superstition which I had never heard of before. I looked it up when I got home and found out it is one that exists all over Europe.
The saying goes that if you drink the last drop of wine in a bottle then you will marry within the year or, if you are already married, you will have a daughter. The saying applies to women and men alike. I tried to find an explanation behind it but it’s a mystery.
So this Valentine’s Day, watch out for that last drop!
filed in beaujolais, Lyon, Wine Tasting on Jan.30, 2013
If Lyon is the food capital of France, then Beaujolais is the perfect destination for wine lovers. Lyon and Beaujolais make the ideal pairing for your next trip to France.
On our Three Day Les Halles Market & Wine Tour you will spend a full day on Saturday visiting the Beaujolais region with an expert, English speaking guide and of course taste lots of delicious wine.
Below is the itinerary for the wine tour:
10am: After breakfast, you be picked up from your hotel in Lyon by our expert wine guide with whom you will travel by minibus to the Beaujolais wine region
11am: On arrival you will enjoy a presentation about Beaujolais at the “Madonna of Fleurie” where there will be a 360 viewpoint of the vineyards. You will walk through the vineyards of cru Fleurie and visit a 17th century winery where you will taste wine directly from the barrel and learn about the wine making process
1pm: You will then visit one of the finest wine estates in the Beaujolais, and have an introduction to food and wine pairing while enjoying a delicious private lunch
2.30pm: In the afternoon you will visit an organic winery for more wine tastings and to learn about the famous Beaujolais organic wine movement
4pm: You will be taken back to Lyon, arriving at 5pm. The evening is free for you to recover from a full day of wine tasting!
The wine tour gives you an opportunity to discover intimately the secrets of the Beaujolais wine region with a local private guide. Your trip does not end there, you will visit France’s most famous food market (Les Halles Paul Bocuse) on Sunday morning discovering more about this region’s gastronomy.
Book your wine tour here
filed in Events, Wine Tasting on Jan.27, 2013
Adam Wander from Wander Curtis chats to Flavours of France about wine tasting events in London and his love of France and French wines.
1) Tell us a little about Wander Curtis and the wine tastings in London
Four years ago I discovered a mutual wine lover, Kiran Curtis who lived a few doors away and had an interesting wine collection in his cellar. We thought it would be fun to start organising tastings for our friends covering specific themes, such as region and grape variety. We found a real desire amongst our friends to learn more about wine and the word spread.
Now our tasting events are held in restaurants which has allowed us to host more people and enhances the whole evening, as food and wine go so well together. We normally find a restaurant to match the region or country of the wines so each event becomes a new experience.
2) Why do you think the wine tasting events have been so popular?
They are popular as we do it in an enjoyable, informal way and we often invite guest speakers. At our last 2 events we’ve had a Master of Wine presenting the wines, Steve Smith MW at Fredericks in Islington and Mike Ritchie MW at El Parador in Camden. We also try to expose people to new wine experiences and at very good value.
3) Tell me about how visiting your aunt in Bordeaux sparked your interest in wine and your favourite French wines
What a question, this could take a long time! There are many, but if pushed my favourite French wines are sweet ones of Sauternes, Barsac and St Croix du Mont. My aunty lives in this area and I was very much brought up on these wines, first being given a Chateau Giraud at the age of 8!
One of our early tastings was an introduction to red Burgundy, held at one of our members houses and accompanied by a fantastic boeuf bourguignon; a fantastic pairing.
4) Do you believe there is a quality that distinguishes French wine from others?
Although French wines face increasingly stiff competition, there is of course one aspect of the wines from the great wine making regions of France that still holds an enduring fascination and that is their ability to evolve and develop over the decades.
5) What is your most memorable wine experience?
The most memorable was Christmas eve, when I was a student I hitch hiked down from Edinburgh to Bordeaux. My aunt had arranged to go for dinner with friends in her village, by the River Garonne. It was a nine course feast, each course served with a different Bordeaux wine.
Oysters with a crisp dry Graves, pan seared Fois Gras with Sauternes, Magret du Canard cooked on the embers of grape vine cuttings with a Paulliac. Wood pigeon with a full bodied Pomerol, and it went on…
6) Can you recommend a good starting point for people wishing to improve their knowledge?
The WSET courses are excellent. There’s lots of others too, Kiran has done the Michael Schuster course. Of course attending a Wander Curtis tasting is a great idea!
7) Could you offer a wine tip for novices and a tip for experts?
The question we get asked most often from our members is what wine to order in a restaurant. Normally the best bet in a restaurant is to give the sommelier a maximum budget and ask for a recommendation, they know their wines and normally want to please.
For the expert the only advice we can offer is to never to stop searching out new wine experiences.
Most importantly everyone’s palate is different. The main thing about wine, like food or art, is whether you like it or not, regardless of it’s cost or what reviews it has received.
Thanks Adam for your tips! If you’re looking to combine your love of wine with a holiday, try our wine tour in the beautiful Beaujolais region and stay in the neighbouring city of Lyon, France’s food capital.
filed in France, Wine Tasting on Nov.12, 2012
I had a chat with Lucy Bridgers whose professional life has been dominated by wine and food. Read her interview below for wine trends, tips on food and wine pairing and how to improve your wine knowledge:
1) Are there any emerging wine trends in 2012/2013?
Sweet, lighter alcohol wines, especially sparkling, are experiencing a renaissance. Moscato is particularly popular – fun, frothy and grapey. Wine-based cocktails are also very popular. Natural wines are also gaining a dedicated and vocal following, but polarising the wine industry.
2) What is your approach to food and wine pairing?
Often I’ll choose the wine first and work back, creating a dish that will enhance the wine (ie avoiding powerful flavours that will overwhelm it). Alternatively, I’ll take a more ‘terroir’ based approach and select food and drink from the same region or country.
3) What is your favourite French wine?
It’s so difficult to choose. I do love Loire wines, particularly as I spent a year in Tours as an assistante and wrote a thesis on the region’s wines, and I find something so calming and awe-inspiring about the region and return there regularly. However, I adore the French classics and if push comes to shove, it would have to be Burgundy, red or white and with several years’ age. These are glorious, fascinating, sexy wines from a beautiful, historic region. They tick all the boxes.
4) In your blog you describe Beaujolais as a neglected French classic, why is this?
I feel that Beaujolais has been neglected by both the producers and consumers, although the current run of great vintages demonstrates the great potential of these wines. For many years, the region relied too heavily on Beaujolais Nouveau and basic Beaujolais and people have forgotten that examples like Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent have depth and richness, and with age can become quite Burgundy-like.
5) Do you believe there is a quality that distinguishes French wine from others?
France produces practically every style of wine and has a longstanding culture of gastronomy. The wines often have a structural balance (acidity, tannin and alcohol) that makes them refreshing to drink and partner a broad range of foods. Furthermore, France produces wines that suit any mood or occasion that continually surprise and delight!
6) What is your most memorable wine experience?
Tough question! I think drinking wine from the year of your birth is always amazing. Luckily I was born in a good vintage! Old wines are always thrilling – back in 2000 at the London Wine Trade Fair I was very fortunate and was offered a Madeira – Bual – from 1900 to taste. Tasting a century-old wine was a fascinating and emotional experience. Even smelling the empty glass was deeply satisfying – you could have worn it as perfume.
7) Do you recommend a good starting point for people wishing to improve their knowledge of wine?
Learn how to read the label, so you can clearly recall wines you particularly enjoy. Too often I’ve encountered people who can’t describe or remember which wines they like – and consequently have no way of understanding the reasons for liking it. Try to note down who produced the wine, the region it came from, grape varieties used, vintage and whether or not it was aged in oak. An indication of the alcohol content and level of sweetness will also help.
As the subject of wine is all about geography, Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson’s The World Atlas of Wine is invaluable. This book helps you navigate the complex world of wine. For example, if you like Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, but are looking for a more affordable alternative, try wines from neighbouring ACs such as Rasteau, Lirac or Vacquéyras, or Côtes du Rhône-Villages from a good producer like Chapoutier.
Finally, if you’re interested in wine, do visit local producers if you’re on holiday in a wine region, taste the wines and buy a few bottles. Wine makes a great souvenir!
Follow Lucy’s blog, Wine, food and other pleasures.
filed in Wine Tasting on May.12, 2012
When I first spoke to Pauline de Castelnau, it was clear that we had more in common than an appreciation of wine. Following our passions, we both set up a small boutique business offering a truly special experience for people visiting France.
While Flavours of France organises Cookery Holidays, Pauline provides bespoke, intimate wine tours. On our 5 day Lyon Course Pauline will take guests on a day trip to visit the Beaujolais vineyards, meet the producers and taste the wine. Read my interview with Pauline below:
1) What made you start your Beaujolais wine tours?
Many reasons. Firstly, my passion for the region, its great wines and the people who make them, the wonderful winemakers of Beaujolais!
Secondly, the renewed interest of wine lovers in this region after the historical vintage of 2009, and the fact that more and more people are interested in coming to Beaujolais to meet and discuss with winemakers, and taste their wines.
2) What can guests expect from your tours?
Intimacy, a “behind the door” exploration, a personal touch and a tailored experience.
3) Have you always been passionate about wine?
I started living in a winery when I was 10, when my family moved to Meursault in Burgundy, where my dad became a winemaker. This is when my first memory of wine dates back, our lives followed the rhythms and seasons of wine.
4) What in your opinion is the difference between a good and a great wine?
I will quote my father here, who says “A good wine is just a good tasting drink. A great wine is a living wine.” So while a good wine is pleasant, a great wine can tell you a story.
5) What makes the Beaujolais wines so special?
The Beaujolais is very well known around the world, especially because of the famous party taking place every November when “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” It is also well-known for its long aging wines which combine the fresh touches of the Gamay grape, with fruity and gourmet flavours.
Beaujolais is also a region with stunning landscapes full of rolling hills covered in vines, and people with a reputation for hospitality and love of life in general!
6) If you could describe your wine tours in 3 words, what would they be?
Experience, pleasure and knowledge.
7) Where are your favourite places in Lyon?
La Mère Brazier, a Michelin starred restaurant run by a talented young chef, where I go when I want to impress food lovers.
La Tartine is also a lovely little restaurant with delicious old fashioned recipes and Edith Piaf always playing in the background. The best place in town to devour a “pogne” (a praline brioche) is at La Praline, on Saint Jean street in the historical district. For great places to eat and drink you are spoilt for choice in Lyon.
Thanks Pauline for taking the time to chat with us, I can’t wait for the next Beaujolais wine tour later this summer! For more information about our Lyon Holidays, take a look at our upcoming Courses.
filed in Wine Tasting on May.01, 2012
When I was creating the Cookery Courses in La Rochelle, I knew I wanted to include an activity about one of France’s greatest exports, wine! That’s when I found out about Cyrille Mathieu, one of the region’s top experts!
We are so pleased to have Cyrille on board teaching our guests about the delights of wine tasting. I caught up with him earlier to ask him a few questions about his favourite topic.
1) How did you learn so much about wine?
I worked in a wine school for 10 years in the Champagne region and I created a wine tasting club with my students.
2) What are the steps for tasting wine?
There are three steps in wine tasting. Look, smell and taste. The visual examination of the wine is the first step to obtain general information. The olfactory analysis is the second crucial step in wine tasting. The last step is the taste. This can confirm or deny what we have seen the first two steps.
3) What are the main things you try to teach during your wine tasting demonstrations?
I try to allow people to discover the wine tasting world and to understand the importance of our sense of smell that we do not often use in daily life. But the most important thing is to enjoy the wine tasting.
4) What makes the Poitou Charentes wine different from other regions?
Today there are 800 hectares of wines (in 1865 there were 30,000 hectares!) and wine producers cite the fact that the “terroir” or land is not as dry as the Aquitaine and more sunny than the neighbouring Touraine, creating excellent white wines but also very good reds.
5) What is your favourite wine?
My favorite wines are French wines which come from the Vallée du Rhône, especially the wines made with a grape variety like Syrah.
Thanks Cyrille, we look forward to your next wine tasting demonstration and hopefully I’ll be able to pass the aroma bottle test this time! For more information, please visit the Vinième Sens.