Category Archives: wine

Germany wine


A couple weeks ago, I went to Berlin for the third time. Berlin is one of my favorite cities in Germany, but I’ve never written about it. So I thought I’d change that. Berlin is full of history and fun, but at extremely low prices (ridiculously low, actually). Maybe you’ll get some ideas.

Tiffany was with me on the first two trips. We went one time for an extended weekend while we were living in Germany. On that first trip we stayed in a hostel that was situated on the location of the old death strip in Mitte. There was an incredible amount of history in that area and this is one of the things that I liked most about visiting Berlin. As Americans who were kids when the Berlin wall came down, we were both familiar with it, but it was all very abstract. I never really knew much about the history of the wall or the realities for the people living in the east, or Berlin in general (as it contained, of course, both east and west). The most exciting thing we did was the Trabi Safari, in which I got to drive a Trabant around while a guide communicated from a few cars up. For those who don’t know, the Trabant is the stereotypical east German car. I guess there were actually a couple other makes in the DDR, but the vast majority were Trabants. Citizens waited many years from order to delivery, though over the decades a few million were produced overall. They are interesting in themselves, so maybe I will write more someday. Also, we visited the DDR museum, which was extremely tight and crowded to the point that one time was probably enough for me, but very educational. We also went on a tour about the many escape attempts from east to west Berlin. Finally, we made reservations and visited the Reichstag, which is a must-see tourist attraction, though I think the dome lacks class. There were panels and an audio guide to learn about the history of the building. As I don’t know much about European history, I really like learning this type of stuff when I travel. Berlin is among the best for this.

On our second trip, I was there for a job interview in August down in Teltow, a suburb on the southwest edge of the city. Teltow was nice and I’m sure it’s a friendly and clean place to live, but it is also one of the most boring places I’ve ever visited in Europe. Luckily it is a short S-Bahn ride to Berlin, so after my interview we spent an extra two nights in a small AirBnB place in the Schöneberg district. By this point, we had been out of Germany for quite some time. We’ve just visited on a couple short trips since moving to France, so when we go back we have certain things we like to do. One such thing is having a proper brunch buffet, which we did. On weekends, and even weekdays at some places in Berlin, German cafes often have pretty good buffets. These often even include hot foods such as eggs, which are uncommon in normal European breakfasts. We luckily were there during the International Berlin Beer Festival, so that was pretty interesting. We tried several beers and scored many new coasters for our collection. On our previous trip we had tried to visit the Berlin Cathedral but failed because it is often closed. We almost failed on this trip as well, but we went back on our last morning and did manage to see it and climb up to the top. We’ve been to the top of a lot of German churches, so we shy away from it generally, but it seemed like a proper tourist thing to see.

My third trip, by myself, was for a second interview in Teltow. I won’t mention names, but that job didn’t work out due to a quite friendly but extremely incompetent hiring process. On this trip, I was by myself and I opted to stay two extra nights at Riverside Lodge Hostel in the Kreuzberg district. This turned out to be an awesome hostel and an awesome area. I only paid around 22 Euro per night but it was incredibly clean and friendly. It was a really small place with a very social atmosphere and the owner was enthusiastic about recommending things to do in the area. At his suggestion, I had breakfast and coffee at a really cool cafe around the block called Katie’s Blue Cat. Also most of the guests ended up at Wirtshaus Hasenheide for German food on the first night. I visited two other noteworthy places on this trip that I would like to go back to. First is Tempelhofer Feld, which is an airport turned massive park. I had a hard time picturing what it would be like at a park with no trees and such, but it was really quite cool. There were lots of quiet places to sit and many people were running/rollerblading/etc. I just read on Wikipedia that it has since been turned into a refugee camp, so I’m unsure if/when I’ll be able to return. The second cool place I went was Klunkerkranich, in Neukölln. This is a rooftop bar/cafe place with a great view of the city. I was there briefly just to have a quick snack for breakfast before catching the plane, but I’d like to go back. I must warn you though, it’s hard to find. You have to take an elevator up to level P5 in the parking garage of the Neukölln Arcaden and then walk around one of the ramps to reach it (it’s at the top). I’ve read online that there is a cover charge even in the daytime but, for whatever reason, I paid nothing in the morning.

I also want to specifically mention my trip to Cordobar, an amazing wine bar focusing on German and Austrian wines. After checking into the hostel on this last trip, I discovered on Facebook that Yann, the brother of a Burgundian colleague of mine was also in Berlin! He’s a real wine expert so I suggested that we have a drink. We decided on Cordobar, and it was incredible. Yes, a glass of wine was a bit pricey, anywhere from 4.50 to 8.50 if I recall correctly (they have a bottle for EUR 1699.00). But this was really good stuff and the bartender was very knowledgeable and passionate about wine. Once he found out that we live in Burgundy, he started pouring us samples and asking us to name the grapes and such. I’m only familiar with Burgundy wines, so this was impossible for me, but Yann was having fun with it. I guess one of their focuses is on biodynamic wines, which is obviously nonsense, but I still recommend this place wholeheartedly.

There is a lot of random stuff in here, but hopefully you get some ideas of places to see. Berlin is an incredible city, and I recommend visiting.

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Cutting grapes during the Vendange

My experience with the vendange (or grape harvest) was a little different than Eric’s experience, detailed here. I was out in the field cutting grapes from the vines each day, and, boy, it is hard work to do day after day! The cutting part of the vendange is pretty straightforward: cutting, passing the bucket to be emptied into crates, and cutting some more. Though physically demanding, I found it kind of meditative to be outside and face-to-face with the vines for so long each day.

Most importantly, participating in the vendange really gave me a new appreciation for wine, and something to remember and reflect on whenever I enjoy a glass of wine in the future. My new-found appreciation comes from two somewhat contradictory things I learned about the winemaking process. On one hand, if you know the grapes have been handpicked, you can appreciate the physical effort that goes into the production of wine. On the other hand, once you see how simple it is to do the initial processing, you can understand why this beverage has been around for millennia. So, this is what I will be thinking about in a year or so when I finally get to enjoy the 2015 vintage from Domaine Charton-Vachet.

Eric carrying crates of grapes.


For those interested in the minutiae of the cutting process, below are the nitty-gritty details:

First, after we congregated at the domaine in the morning, we would head out to the field. The more knowledgeable members of the crew decided how many rows we would pick at a time. Sometimes it was 9 or 10, other times it was only 3 or 4, depending both on how much area was left to pick, how much time we had, and the number of people we had cutting. Usually we went with a one person per row method, but it varied. Then they decided who would be assigned to each row, usually putting the bigger or more experienced people in the rows with crates. This seemed to be because the stronger people could help empty the buckets easier and the more experienced people could both do this and easily keep up with the pace. Then we started cutting! When we would near the end of a section of rows, those who finished first would step over to unfinished rows and help out. It made it seem like a team race where the pace of everyone else pushes you to perform as quickly as possible and your teammates help you over the finish line if needed.

The cutting method is basically to brush/tear away leaves blocking your view, and then cut the grapes off the vine as well and as quickly as you can manage with a pair of small garden clippers. Most of the time the grapes were easy to spot and cut off the vine, but sometimes clumps of grapes were tangled together or in the wires supporting the vines. After cutting away all the obvious clusters of grapes, I would give the plant a good final scan and maybe brush the leaves once more just to check for any hidden clusters before moving on to the next plant. Sometimes clumps of grapes get overlooked, so one way we dealt with this was to scan the rows as we walked back down them after finishing a section. Sometimes whole vines would be missed if two or more people were working the same row and they weren’t conscientious — you really don’t want that to happen, but people weren’t always very predictable in where they started and ended a section of cutting.

The vines themselves were quite variable in terms of the number of grapes they produced. Some had 15 clusters of grapes and others had only one. The size or the quantity of vegetation didn’t always predict how many grapes a vine produced. The Chardonnay plants were quite hardy and easily stood up to tearing away leaves. The Pinot Noir plants seemed more delicate and fragile, but the grapes stood out so well on those vines that you didn’t need to rip away too many leaves. We also picked some Gamay, and those vines were more scraggly than any of the others.


Eric standing with some Pinot Noir grapes.


The thing that makes being a cutter hard work is that grapes on typical Burgundian vines are usually about 1 to 1.5 feet off the ground (30 to 45 cm). This requires the cutter to bend over, lunge, kneel down on one or both knees, squat, or sit. None of these positions are very ideal to repeatedly perform at a quick pace over the course of a full day of grape harvesting. Bending over is hard on your back and could contribute to a bit of acid reflux after the morning snack or the 4-course french lunch provided by the domaine. Constantly lunging really works the leg muscles. Kneeling and squatting are hard on the knees, and with kneeling you also have to deal with avoiding all the rocks in the field. Sitting might be seem comfortable, but sitting is also problematic due to mud and prickly plant life growing alongside the grapes. Thus, the reality is that you do some combination of all of these positions over the course of a day.

For me, at the end of the first day my knees hurt a bit and my abs were surprisingly sore. Leg muscle and back pain seemed to only last so long as I was actually cutting in stances requiring use of those body parts. The next morning though, I could barely kneel; my knees were so sore after a night’s rest. This is how it continued for the remaining days. After an hour of cutting each morning, my knees would loosen up a bit so that kneeling and squatting were possible, but they would stiffen up again during the lunch break. Ultimately though I just started to tune the pain out by the end of each day, focusing instead on finishing the next row of vines.

For the uninitiated, four days of vendange is certainly enough to get the complete experience and to come away with a few battle scars. I highly recommend doing it if you have the opportunity, an interest in wine, and you aren’t one to shy away from character-building work.

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Vendange in Burgundy

Every year at the beginning of September is when all of the Burgundy wine producers harvest their grapes. Many seasonal workers are hired, some for money and some for fun. As Tiffany and I both still have valid work permits, we decided to do it this year. It is a very unique situation for Americans to be able to experience a vendange in Burgundy, as most cannot legally work for money.

Four days in the fields

Our friend Didier, who runs Domaine Charton-Vachet, is a relatively small producer, so he hired us for just four days. Many of these gigs go for longer and often the workers will finish working at one domaine and move on to another. For example, one couple that we were working with also planned to go up to Champagne for their harvest (where they apparently pay by weight). For us, four days was a sufficient glimpse into the life of a vendanger.

Day 1

We arrived at the domaine in Saint-Vallerin (a small village in the Montagny appellation) at 7:30 on Thursday morning. Two days prior, we had presented copies of our work permits and birth certificates, so when we arrived on Thursday there were some contracts (contrat à durée déterminée, or CDD) waiting for our signatures.

(Sorry for the cell-phone quality photos. It wasn’t really possible to lug the DSLR around.)

Tiffany getting ready to harvest some grapes in Saint-Vallerin.

At about 8AM, we went out to the field, which was directly across the street and contained only Chardonnay (Montagny village appellation). Didier gave us some very brief instructions and we were off. The process was very simple. First we tore some leaves off to get a better view of the grapes and then we cut them using some small clippers. In this area the pickers place the grapes in relatively small buckets, which are then frequently dumped into larger crates placed in the rows. We picked for almost two hours, until it was time for our morning snack break which included saucisson (French sausage), cheese, pâté, bread, and some chocolate bars.

After the snack, Didier assigned rows to most people, but he skipped me! He then said I was coming with him. It turned out I had gotten lucky. Probably because I was one of the larger workers and Didier likely assumed I’d be interested in seeing some things, I was assigned the task (with another, very experienced guy) of delivering empty crates to the pickers, carrying the full crates (into which the pickers had dumped their buckets), and loading the truck and trailer (behind a small tractor). I say this was lucky because it was probably easier on my back than bending down in the rows and also I experienced a lot more. Driving back and forth to the winery, I got to see the whole process. It probably wouldn’t have been so lucky for somebody Tiffany’s size, however, given that we were carrying two crates on our backs and sometimes one in our hands at the same time.

When lunchtime came, I learned one of the downsides of this assignment. When the rest of the workers went to lunch (a four-course meal), we had to process all of the grapes they had picked in the morning, meaning we ate later. These white grapes had to go through one machine to remove the stems and another to crush them. My task was menial, because obviously the guy who had been doing it for 16 years and the domaine owner knew what they were doing. I was instructed to hold the hose going from the destemmer to the crusher and ensure that it never went into the crusher, otherwise very bad things would happen. This was a fairly high-exertion task, because I didn’t know the optimal strategy, but it was straightforward. I was just glad to be in the winery observing the process.

The afternoon followed the same basic process. Deliver empty crates, pickup full crates, and bring them back to the winery. The picking finished around 18:30 and then I experienced the other downside of my job. I had to stay later too, because we had to process all of the grapes from the afternoon. We (because Tiffany and I drove together) ended up getting out of there at maybe 20:00.

Day 2

On Friday morning, we showed up at about 7:45 to have some coffee before heading out at about 8:00. This time, we went to a plot near the village of Montagny. These grapes were Montagny 1er Cru Les Jardins (Chardonnay).

Truck in the vineyards near Montagny.

The day progressed similarly to Thursday, but one interesting thing is we took a ride over to deliver a small truckload of grapes to the coop in Buxy. We aren’t big fans of that place anymore, but it is where I got started with my Burgundy wine tasting two years ago. Last year Tiffany and I went over there during the harvest to look at the line of tractors and trucks dropping off loads, so it was neat to be in the line this year.

The way the coop works is farmers sign a contract to deliver some or all of their grapes from a given plot to the cave, and then they are paid by weight. This means that the farmers don’t need to have their own equipment (crusher, destemmer, tanks, etc.) but it also means that there is an averaging effect. In fact, I believe that these grapes from the Les Jardins climat that we dropped off are likely bound to end up in a more generic bottle labelled simply “Montagny 1er Cru” whereas the stuff that Didier produces himself will have the label “Montagny 1er Cru Les Jardins,” which is more specific to the plot of land. The wine that comes out of the cave will often be decent, but it’s rare to find really good stuff there. If a producer really cares about producing quality wine, he’ll have his own equipment and take ownership over the whole process. If a farmer just wants to profit on farming grapes, the coop is a better choice.

I again stayed late to help out in the winery, just helping to unload the palettes and perform the menial hose-holding task for the crushing. We didn’t leave until about 22:00 that night.

Day 3

On Saturday, we arrived at about 7:50AM. You can probably see how the sleeping hours were becoming scarce at this point. This time, we went to another plot just downhill from Les Jardins. This was the normal Montagny village appellation. The picking was done in time for (I believe a slightly late) lunch, but of course I stayed a couple hours extra to help finish up with unloading and processing the grapes. We left at about 17:00.

Day 4

Sunday was an early morning because we had to drive up to Nuits-Saint-Georges. We all met in Saint-Vallerin at around 6:30AM. We then took three cars to our destination, where we were met by a refrigerated truck. Because the logistics were quite different than the previous days, I spent most of the day picking. The majority of the day was spent on Pinot noir (Nuits-Saint-Georges village), but towards the end we also picked some Gamay. I’m not sure the appellation on that Gamay. It may just be “Burgundy” because I think the village appellation is probably reserved for Pinot noir, but then I’m not sure if the Burgundy name can be on something that is pure Gamay. I guess those grapes were being picked for another guy, so I’m not really sure how that all works. (EDIT: I’ve been told these bottles can be labeled “Coteaux Bourguignons.”)

Refrigerated truck in the vineyards near Nuits-Saint-George.

I didn’t get as much experience picking as Tiffany did, but to me the Chardonnay and Pinot noir plants seemed quite similar. The Gamay seemed similar also, but maybe a little more difficult to access the grapes. The grapes seemed to be closer to the vines, but this could be purely anecdotal.

For lunch on Sunday, we had a picnic on a palette. Otherwise, the normal schedule with the morning break and then the lunch break was pretty much the same as before. I was asked to help load some crates onto a palette for the refrigerated truck towards the end of the day and then I helped deliver some empty crates, before going back to picking. We finished picking at around 17:30 and were back in Saint-Vallerin at around 18:30. After the refrigerated truck arrived, we unloaded it and processed the grapes. This is easier for the Pinot noir, as they don’t need crushed. They simply got dumped into the destemmer and from there they went straight to the tank. A couple hours later, we began a dinner with sausages and plenty of wine (though I was driving and already exhausted, so I didn’t benefit much from that).


I was getting more and more stiff and sore each of the four days, but interestingly I wasn’t really that sore the next day after 11 hours of sleep. However, my skin has been reacting pretty badly all over my body and particularly on my hands. I get eczema sometimes, but this is the worst I’ve ever had. It’s interesting that I had no skin problems during the harvest itself, aside from a few scrapes, but a day later this became a real problem. Today is the fourth day of rest after the harvest and my skin was bad enough that I went to the doctor. It seems I likely encountered some plant that I was allergic to and this triggered a reaction all over.

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Saint-Vincent de Montagny-les-Buxy

January is the time of year when Burgundy winegrowers trim branches from their vines and celebrate Saint Vincent, patron saint of vineyards and vintners. For the second time, Eric and I attended the Banquet de Saint-Vincent de Montagny-les-Buxy. This Saint Vincent celebration is a whole day affair, involving a lot of food and even more wine.

Always on a Sunday, the celebrations begin with a small procession of vintners dressed in ceremonial garb making their way to a local church. After a religious service, they parade to the local war memorial and pay homage to those lost in the two world wars. The procession then starts again, this time headed to a local domaine. Each year a different vintner gets to be host for the ceremonial first drink of the day, and at this point the activities become more jovial. A white wine is served along with gougères. In our experience, everyone joining in the festivities usually crams into the vintner’s cold warehouse area and must jostle to get at the drinks and snacks. Perhaps the wine is too cold and the atmosphere a bit lacking, but eventually a group clothed in traditional regional outfits will step outside and perform a variety of songs and dances. Everyone’s spirits rise in anticipation of the rest of the day.

Lunch starts at 2pm, and can last five to six hours. It is held in Buxy at the Salle des Fêtes, probably the only facility in the area large enough to hold all the guests and equipped with a kitchen that can turn out hundreds of plates of food over the course of the afternoon. This year the organizers were kind to seat us next to the only other native English speaker in attendance and in close proximity to many of the winegrowers we have become acquainted with.

Over the course of the afternoon, six courses of food were served. After the first two courses, we were given a little extra time to digest between each course as the brotherhood of winegrowers performed skits on the stage. While our understanding of French is by no means perfect, the skits were still entertaining for us to watch. We wined and dined over the course of the afternoon and into the evening. Not only are local wines served with with the meal, but the tradition is that winegrowers and attendees bring in bottles of wine from their own cellars. This allowed us to taste and sip on at least 15 different wines throughout the afternoon. We were provided with a spittoon and ample water, so we could move from one wine to the next without worrying about finishing every last drop or getting too tipsy.

Every course of lunch was superb, and dessert — cake decorated with large sparklers — was paraded before the crowd before it was sliced and served. It was a lovely, gut-bursting meal.

After the lengthy lunch, the party really gets started with a live band and dancing. The music is a bit old-fashioned and polka-esque, but I wouldn’t really expect anything else given the average age of the crowd. Eric and I tempted fate by going for a spin on the dance floor again this year, and somehow we managed not to take anybody out. I think it’s safer when we just watch though. Everyone is jolly and satisfied by this point in the evening, and it is nice to take a little break from all the eating and drinking just to watch the French be French. Not too long though, because a buffet is served just a few hours after the lunch feast has ended.

Eric and I stayed until shortly before midnight, just long enough to fill ourselves at the buffet, but we couldn’t imagine drinking any more wine after doing so for the last 12 hours. Many of the winegrowers and their friends were still going strong, dancing across the floor and lining up at the buffet for more food. Eric and I practically rolled ourselves out the door and toward the hotel we had rented for the night. I have no idea how the older French ladies and gentlemen have the stamina to keep partying into the wee hours of the night after so much eating and drinking, but perhaps it is just years of practice. I guess that will give us reason to keep coming back to the Banquet de Saint-Vincent de Montagny-les-Buxy whenever we can!

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Wine tasting in Burgundy

We have been living in Burgundy for about a year and a half now and we have really gotten into the wine culture. In the past, I have never been a huge fan of wine or alcohol in general. I drank from time to time, and I sometimes enjoyed it just fine, but it was never a big part of my life. However, wine is an important part of the culture here, and beer was a big part of the culture when we were living in Germany. So as outsiders it kind of makes sense to really embrace these drinks as a way of learning about the cultures. When living in Germany, we tried many types of beer, I toured a couple breweries, and we even went to Oktoberfest once (which is nowhere near where we were living). Now that we are in France, we have really embraced the wine culture, to an even greater degree than we embraced beer in Germany. This is a great way not only to learn about wine, but also to see a lot of small villages around the region. We rarely drink at home. Because of our relatively cheap weekend hobby, we have really gained an in-depth knowledge of these places and the people. We’ve even become acquainted with some of the producers, who have been very welcoming and generous to us.


One thing that makes Burgundy unique, as compared to tasting anywhere else in the world, is the incredible diversity available from only a couple grape varieties. Most of the grapes here are either Chardonnay (white) or Pinot Noir (red), though there are a few minor exceptions (Aligote and Gamay, for example). In terms of differences then, the concept of terroir is very important. It’s a very complex subject, but basically the ground expresses itself through the grapes. Grapes grown in a different village or even on a different part of the same slope will have different sun and wind exposure, as well as different minerals and water availability in the soil, for example. This affects the taste drastically and, from what I’ve heard, there is basically no other place on earth with such diversity. Also, this concept is very historic here. Many of these vineyards were mapped out by monks centuries ago, because even they understood that different plots of land produce wine of different quality, some of which is subjective, of course.

Finding Burgundy wine events

There is a wine tasting event within an hour’s drive almost every weekend. However, one thing that I noticed when we first moved here is that it isn’t entirely clear how to best find these events. Yes, there is a website that lists a lot of them, but it is poorly designed and it lists special festivals and open houses right in the same list as tasting opportunities that go for months. There just isn’t a great events calendar for Burgundy wine tasting and certainly not in English. That said, you can check the following sites for some information:

It is also sometimes possible to look at the websites of any villages that you find interesting. They often will list local events.

Tiffany at Saint Vincent Tournante 2014 in Saint Aubin

Occasions to taste wine in Burgundy

Just to give you an idea of what to expect and the general etiquette, here are a few types of occasions on which one might go wine tasting in Burgundy:

  • Regular tasting at an individual domaine: Some domaines have an open tasting room many days of the week where one can just come in and do some tasting. In this setting it is considered good form to buy something. We usually do buy at least a bottle of whatever our favorite was from the tasting, within our price range of course, and this way we always have a collection of wines at home that are not always super fancy but very decent stuff that we like. For example, we often go to Domaine Berthenet in Montagny. They are open most days and they have quite a solid selection of good wines.
  • Portes Ouvertes: This is where an individual domaine or even an entire village has a free tasting event. For these, you just follow the signs and taste wines. Usually it does not cost anything, but once in a while they will charge a couple euro. Though it is considered good etiquette to buy something if it is free, realistically these events are crowded and not everybody buys. Our deliciousness threshold to buy at an event like this is higher, because we can’t taste at every place in town and buy something everywhere.
  • Wine festivals: This is what we mainly attend. For various reasons, throughout the year many of the little villages have special festivals. For these, you generally pay 5 or 6 euro to buy a glass and walk around the village tasting wine at each domaine. Just due to these events, we have way more glasses than the number of people we could ever entertain in our home, and each village has their own glasses so it’s a fun collection for us. Because you pay to participate in one of these festivals there is less expectation to buy bottles. In fact we’ve been to events where the producers didn’t even have bottles available for sale.
  • Expositions: Sometimes in the larger towns (think Beaune or Mâcon), there are indoor events with an admission charge. These events typically also have food available to sample and buy. The downside of being indoors is that you are isolated from the character of the town, and instead it really is just about the food and wine, but we do usually try to walk around the town afterwards.

Note that here I’ve only listed the types of events that are generally practical for our income bracket. There are some events where you pay something like 70 euro and walk around tasting wines in a vineyard. These may be cool, but we haven’t done one yet just because it’s not really necessary to spend this type of money to taste really good wines in Burgundy.

There are some events that are seasonal and they occur in many villages around the same time. For example, the past couple weeks has been filled with events related to Saint Vincent. We actually attended a banquet in Buxy (for the Montagny appellation) two weekends ago, for the second year. Maybe Tiffany will be writing about that, because it’s an awesome story in itself. In addition to these various events around Burgundy, each year one village holds the Saint Vincent Tournante. This is a big tasting event and it is worth seeing at least once if you get the chance. We went last year when it was held in Saint Aubin. However, last weekend we opted not to go to the 2015 event. It’s just not as interesting to us as the little festivals in random villages. There are crowds to fight through just to get a taste, the number of tastes are limited (this is sometimes technically the case at other festivals, but it is rarely enforced), and it’s expensive (15 euro for 7 tastes this year). Additionally, outdoor tasting at this time of year is not really great for enthusiasts because the wine is always too cold.

Stay tuned…

This was a broad overview of how to taste wine in Burgundy. Of course there are also businesses, such as large cellars and wine shops, where wine can be tasted. We do go to these sometimes, and some are awesome, but here it was my intent to talk about opportunities to get a little more culture. Hopefully we will begin writing some things about individual villages and events we like. We are not experts on wine, but we are learning. We want to share what we can.