Wine in France

After 3 months in France, I now feel that I can say I have some wine experience and knowledge under my belt.

One of our first big excursions through K’s program was to go to a local organic vineyard and pick some grapes. The day started early and we went right to work with the guidance of the seasonal workers, filling up case after case.

Woman holding a case of grapes while standing in a vineyard

Students surrounding a large pastry with a glass of wine on the table

Two college students drinking wine

We picked and chatted cheerily until our snack time of wine and bread with pâté, then picked some more and headed to the pressing site to drop off our day’s harvest.
Then the feasting began.

This was the last of probably five courses during that meal, and certainly not the first taste of wine. Americans beware! When a whole bunch of food is placed before you in France, keep in mind that you will get at least another two rounds, so don’t fill up on that first one despite how delicious it may be!

Not long afterwards, my friend and I came across a big wine tasting event in town, focusing on wine from southern France. There, I familiarized myself with different types of wine (I only know the vocabulary in French so far!) and discovered my personal wine preferences. I also just had way too much fun talking with the vendors, hanging out with my friend, and feeling fancy, of course:

Another very memorable wine event: going to Bordeaux, France, a city where it is impossible to spend any time without taking advantage of the wine scene. When I first got to the city and took the tram into town, I sat next to a nice woman who ended up suggesting a wine bar for me to try. The next night, I tested the place out, and it was surreal!

It turned out to be in this square, right next to a wine school.

I ordered some very French snacks and the bartenders/wine experts suggested which wines to pair with them:

I was on Cloud 9!

open city street at night with lit streetlights

Plates of cheese and bread with glasses of wine

a wine shop








My most recent wine adventure came in the form of a national event called Beaujolais Nouveau. Every third Thursday of November, the French celebrate the arrival of this wine on the market – the first wine sold after autumn’s harvest. The business school we attend here put on a day-long event where you could buy a glass or a bottle of this light, fruity red wine, as well as a typical regional dish known as La Truffade. I didn’t have class that day, and as a result I spent most of the afternoon and evening at this event among friends. After dinner, however, I met up with the K group to go to a wine shop and cavern. Upstairs was a typical wine shop:

But start walking downstairs and you’ll hear live music playing and the mumble of voices. Then a huge stone-walled, dimly lit high-ceiling room opens up to you, full of cheery, chatty people, wine glass in hand.

I didn’t find it too hard to blend in:

Woman smiling with a glass of wine in hand

To say the least, I had a good time. I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to take part in all of these events: to have met, learned from, and shared with so many interesting people!

We’ll see what other wine-related adventures I come across during my last two months.

Until next time!

-Alexandra Smith ’16

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Alexandra Smith ʼ16

About Alexandra Smith ʼ16

Alexandra is a Junior from Corvallis, Oregon who is currently studying abroad in Clermont-Ferrand, France. She is a double major in French and International Studies with a minor in Economics. Sophomore year, Alexandra led a program for the Center for Civic Engagement at K and was a Co-President of the club Zookeepers. She loves dancing, painting, writing, eating, and travelling.