• Kate Langley

Wineing about France

You can visit a cave to taste wines. More serious imbibers may embark on a tour of wine regions. But there are many other, more casual ways to try the wines of the region which are often much more fun and give you a fab chance to explore.

We recently took part in a "Vins Coté Cours' , a wine and truffle extravaganza through the amazing village of St Victor les Oules featuring a 6 course meal, served at various locations throughout the village and the surrounding hillside.

Organised by the Duche d'Uzès wines, who each year select a different lovely village to stage it in. Buy your tickets, pick up a glass and a menu when you arrive and head out to explore the village and surrounding landscape at your own pace ( 5km this time) . Pause at landmarks or view points for the next course with between 2 and 4 wines to taste at each. Each course featured the summer truffle and all were amazing, including the truffle risotto with asparagus, truffle panacotta and truffled strawberries. Add the great scenery, including the Jardin des Oules which only occasionally opens for public viewing, and its a winning formula. And no drunkenness, just a very civilised stroll through gardens and squares of the beautiful village with your glass. So French. My favourite bit? The wines chilling in the ancient 'lavoir' or village laundry where the cheese course was served.

And there are dozens of these events on a bigger or smaller scale throughout the summer. There is a 'Rando-Gourmand' which translates as hike or bike 'gourmand'. You rock up to the vineyard, get a mountain bike, glass and picnic and follow a 16km route round the Cotes du Rhone vineyards. There are music festivals in the vines, sports events (including the Cotes du Rhone marathon) and regularly staged 'Balades' - or walks through the more established vineyards. Once or twice a year you can stroll through the vines, take a picnic and at various spots throughout the domaine there will be wine tastings of recent vintages often with a little canapé or 'amuse-bouche' to accompany.

As well as the more established vineyards which host these events there are small local wine fairs throughout the summer. A group of local vignerons band together to offer their wins and there may be paella on the go, a barbecue or the local bar will be serving charcuterie...very very local and authentic .

Vive la France!

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