I have to admit, on our trips we may be on a Route de la Chèvre, but we are ALWAYS on the Route du Vin. Traveling with Bill, a seasoned traveler and knowledgeable winemaker, he often guides our travels into food and wine decadence.
Bill, Nancy and most of our wine drinking friends prefer a dry wine experience. As a lesson in wine selection, the label or your server should provide you with some basic information: vintage, grape variety, origin and whether the product is dry or off dry. Here are some clues for searching for a dry wine.
France – Vin sec
Germany – Trocken wine
Italy – Vino secco
USA – Dry
From there you can match your choices to your varietal tastes and budget. For myself, I put down my menu and ask Bill to select something I will like. He is seldom wrong on this.
Beginning our trip in Bavaria, Bill spent an afternoon chatting with a charming Winzer or wine grower. The topics are all similar wherever we go, climate, soil conditions and environmental threats to the grapes.
German Wine Law requires 6 items to be included on the label. Unfortunately vintage and grape variety are not required. The best option is to decide white or red and the level of “Trocken” you desire.
We came home with two bottles of German wine, a Riesling and a Merlot from Gehrig in Weisenheim am Sand and the labels were clear that the Riesling was “Trocken” or dry and the Merlot is a Blanc (White) de Noir.
We are both looking forward to tasting the Merlot. The Riesling we might save for a warm summer afternoon.
Alsatian wines are unique and some of “Bill’s favorites”. We visited the Wolfberger Winery in Eguisheim which has a beautiful tasting room, Sipp Mack in Hunawihr and a few others along the way. From Alsace we brought home a Riesling and several bottles of Gewürztraminer. The Gewürztraminer with a little creme d’ cassis makes a fabulous Kir, a popular aperitif at our house.
Incidentally, on the back label of the Alsatian wines, there is a chart which helps you identify the level of “vin sec”. Very helpful.
The Burgundian wines, mainly chardonnay and Pinot Noir are typically sorted out by the area the grapes are sourced from. A single winery can produce Grand Cru, Premier Cru and a Village wine. We were able to taste all levels of wine on our visit to Imaginarium in Nuits-Saint-Georges, where they had a cruvinet that allowed us to taste some higher end wines.
It is possible to also look for opportunities in restaurants that might be serving some better wines by the glass. We like to confirm the bottles are stored correctly, optimally in a machine that will protect the open wine from oxidation. The O’Chateau wine bar in Paris offers a great selection of wines by the glass at all price levels and a knowledgeable server to explain the source and characteristics of the wine.
As far as what we like, our go to wine of choice is a Cotes du Rhone. It is reasonably priced and most of the time proves to be a good pairing to the food we enjoy. Our white wine selections are typically a higher priced variety and a special treat for us. Sancere is a particular favorite from the western part of the Loire Valley, primarily associated with Sauvignon blanc.
While considering your wine palate, think of your preferences of dry or sweet, red or white, grape variety and when you have the bottle in hand, be sure the read the label, front and back. There is always something to learn.
A couple of other beverages I also enjoyed along the way.
The “Tango” or “Monaco” – Beer with a splash of grenadine or in this case a BIG beer. Some also have French Lemonade added to them.
The Aperol Spritz – Aperol with prosecco or sparkling water and an orange slice. Yum!
The very popular double espresso
And when you just are not sure of what you want, there is always this fall-back from home available down the street with free WIFI.