France – W

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The history of wine in France spans a period of at least 2600 years, dating to the founding of Massalia (Marseille) in the 6th century BC by Phocaeans, with the possibility that viticulture existed much earlier. Until 2010 the French had always ranked as the highest wine consumers in the world, but were surpassed last year by, you guessed it, the USA. Wine is as much a part of life here as milk ! We have a 20km running race just above Nice through our local vineyards of Bellet and in September there’s the Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc weaving its 26 miles through the Bordeaux vineyards, with wine instead of gatorade offered at the refreshmant stops !

I will occasionally pour myself a glass of rosé on a warm summer’s evening and enjoy my aperitif alone on the terrace with some background jazz, to unwind after a day’s work.  But I love wine most in the company of my closest friends, accompanying a lovingly prepared homemade dinner, where, as the bottles are opened, laughter gets louder and stories are shared. Popping the cork, gazing into each other’s eyes as we clink our glasses (not to do so brings bad luck and show a great lack in table etiquette!) and just settling into some good conversation.  Unhurried – discussions sometimes ensue – which wine (as one always brings a bottle as a guest, asked or unasked) we should start with – is it as good as the one we opened on so and so’s birthday… vowing to remember to take off the label off the one’s we wish to purchase again.

While I will always ask the cook what wine he/she wants me to bring, I also like the seasonal move into more chilled whites and mellow rosés as the summer heat takes us outside for our meals onto terraces overlooking the Mediterranean! Then the return to heavy reds as winter envelops us.

After 12 years of tastings and recommendations, I think I can tell the difference between a poor and decent wine, though confess the difference between a  20 euros and a  60 euro bottle usually eludes me, as does discerning the region! I was somewhat comforted in this when doing a blind tasting with about 9 friends a few years ago of reds from various French regions. Even the self-confessed connoisseurs only got around 3/10!!

Visiting almost ay region in France, except the NW, offers opportunities to visit local family-run vineyards and wine-tastings, served with local cheeses and charcuterie. While I drink a veriety of wines I would like to propose three of my favorites.



Village Gigondas

Fiumicicoli – a pale rose-petal colored rosé from the Corsican Sartène region

Cabernet d’Anjou – for a sweeter rosé, Loire region

Gigondas – a robust Cote du Rhone red

Sauvignon Blanc – a popular white from Bordeaux



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8 Responses to France – W

  1. Very interesting post! Although I can no longer drink wine, I was fascinated (as always) by the information you shared. I was particularly interested to learn that not looking into someone’s eyes while clinking glasses would be a terrible breach of etiquette in France. I’m sure I’ve always looked at the glasses (I guess to make sure I didn’t “clink” too vigorously!)

    To your health!

    • Joanna says:

      Somehow didn’t feel right passing “W” by without mentioning wine here, Beth! And, oh yes, you will be severely reprimanded for lack of eye contact when clinking!


  2. Patricia Tilton says:

    How could you not write about wine. I just didn’t know how many vineyards there were in France. As always, I learn so much on your blogs about your beloved country.
    I really have enjoyed this series! Can’t imagine what you will come up with for X Y and Z. 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      I have Z but X and Y are little used letters here ;(

      Some of these vineyards have been in the family for many, many generations. It is such fun to visit for a tasting, as they are always eager to tell about a great great grandad who planted the first vines….

  3. Oh wow. The image of you having wine to the tune of jazz music in the background sounds right about awesome. Again, such an enjoyable post Joanna. Charmed life.

  4. Diane says:

    Stepping off the plane here in Auckland you will see the wellknown Villa Maria Vineyard on the drive from the airport, world famous for it Merlot and Pinot Noir.
    While France is known for its reds, NZ known for its dazling cold whites, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are my preferreds with a meal on the deck with the city and skytower in the background. Joanna you will find yourself right at home here, with the city in one direction and vinyards for miles in the other.
    Our Central Otago boasts similar climate to Burgundy (France). The South Island is a wine lovers haven.
    I knew about the eye contact, same applies with schnaps in Austria and Switzerland.
    I loved this post and wondered when you were going to get around to the wine! Thankyou Joanna.

    • Joanna says:

      Diane, thank you, I was thrilled to learn more about New Zealand wines. While I regularly drink Italian wine, as the border is so close, I still know so little about New World wines (only tried a few South African and Californian whites) – I have a lot to learn. I only discovered a couple of months ago that there were vineyards on Long Island *hangs hed in shame*!

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