Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wine Tasting

One might think people in Paris "wine taste" daily, and yes, this would actually be true, but what I want to talk about is the wine tasting that goes on where you are poured different wines in even smaller amounts than they put in the petit wine glasses in bistros, but you're given several different wines to sample while you learn about them.  I've now been to a few of these events, and tried out a few Parisians "wine bars" in the name of continuing education.

Spring Boutique and friend Stephanie
The first tasting I went to was held at the boutique/wine bar of the uber hot spot Spring.  Spring is all the rage right now and there's no getting in, so I figured the boutique would at least give me a "taste" of some of the Spring magic.  They have started a wine club and members can pick up their 2 bottle shipment the first Friday of each month.  I attended a Friday pick-up day and party to taste the latest release, alongside non-Spring charcuterie (they continue to keep me at arm's length from the restaurant), spiced fruit and steamed clams.

The friendly shopkeeper and wine manager Josh pours everyone a glass while talking about why he picked each selection.  Each bottle has a story and connection to the vitner that Josh details in the tasting notes included with each wine shipment, along with a recipe, though I don't think I'll be tackling the stuffed rabbit from this month.  The notes are written in French and English and don't include the stuffy cat pee and pencil shaving tasting descriptions, but rather, personal accounts on how he came to try the bottle, meet the winemaker and ultimately decide to include the bottle for the wine club.  Josh is looking to expand shipments to the US, so stay tuned!

Vegetables at long last!
Friend Lisette on far right
What else can you do after a wine tasting, but drink more wine, so we went across the street to Le Garde Robe to settle in for another glass and a bite.  Le Garde Robe is a nice little wine bar selling some delightful natural wines and noshes that are posted on a chalk board and propped up in front of you.  We had a really fresh vegetable platter, which is not something you typically see on French menus outside of a garnish, but it was presented in beautiful cuts with a pesto aioli.  It was pretty close to healthy so we needed to get some warm, grilled bread and cheese to round things out.  A delightful evening of food and wine.

Fun wine bar 5e and new friend Gina
To continue my Parisian wine education, I tried a "meet up" wine tasting group this week where anyone who likes wine can show up and share wine and information, for a small fee.  A nice group of people attended ranging from a young American guy just here on vacation to some French guys looking to try some new wines to some older folks who live on boats just down the street from me, and turned out to know a friend of mine's mother. 

Pauline left, Donna right
Donna Moris is the founder of this wine group and she hails from North Carolina, thick accent and all, but not that detectable when she speaks French.  Pauline was her wine advisor and we got to try 4 different wines, starting with Le Petit Saint Vincent, a refreshing, but weighty natural rose with some bubbles - a good way to start a day or evening.  We then moved on to Vignoble Klur, an Alsacian blend of Riesling, Muscat and Sylvaner - a rare grouping that produced multiple, strong flavors with a dry finish.  People were ready to turn up their noses at the next Beaujolais selection, but most were pleasantly surprised at the more tannic, but still easy drinking Domaine Marcel Joubert, coming from Fleurie, a region where you can usually feel safer about getting a decent bottle.  The grand finale was Chateau d'Angles, a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Carignan, that was a heavenly balance of weight, fruit and silkiness, and a good end to a fun evening with new friends.

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