Another great activity at the ILA French immersion school in Montpellier. With the arrival of this year’s first Beaujolais wines our wonderful French immersion school had arranged for a wine tasting and a bit of insight into the tradition and the story behind it. If you are a wine lover this little activity is wonderful but I still recommend it even if it’s typically not your thing. It’s a great way to get to know other students at the ILA immersion School and it is a fun bit of French tradition. At the end of the day who doesn’t want another reason to celebrate?
No Need to Even Leave the French School
This is a super convenient event as it takes place right at the ILA French language School in Montpellier. We met in one of the bigger rooms after French classes and it was a nice mix of French students I knew and some fresh faces. The long thin table was set up with a couple of spittoons, some olives, bread, cheese, cured meats and of course 3 bottles of lovely looking red wine. We were all quite excited and it was quite difficult to sit on our hands and wait for us to get underway. There were thirteen French students in total and Julio who is a teacher at the ILA French Immersion School.
Julio got us all into it by starting with a brief introduction, you know the familiar French stomping ground; what’s your name? where are you from? etc. After that he showed us a short video and gave us a summary of the tradition behind Beaujolais and how it is generally perceived by French people.
What does Beaujolais Mean to French People in Montpellier, France?
The Beaujolais Nouveau represents the first French wines to be released for sale after the harvest of that year. The grapes are taken from the vines from between July and September depending on the region, this is called the ‘vendange’. After that they are fermented in the bigger barrels or tanks for only a matter of weeks. Young wines like this are referred to as a ‘vin de primeur’ and the Beaujolais Nouveau represents the most popular wine of this type. In days past the French wine producers would fight tooth and nail to be the first one to ship their wines to their various markets but now they have settled on a set release date; the third Thursday of November. This means it occupies a nice little holiday vacancy between the summer and Christmas, the other French students from the immersion school speculated that this was probably some clever marketing. Julio then went on to say that although Beaujolais made some fantastic, revered wines the Beaujolais nouveau was considered a more convivial wine, perfect for drinking with friends at a party but not exactly eye rolling quality. Apparently the tradition started with only Beaujolais and then spread to other parts of France before finally becoming a nationwide tradition and also known across the world.
Finally To Tasting Some Beautiful Wines with my Fellow French Students
So we finally got to the good part and it was well anticipated. Sitting in front of all this cheese, meat and wine without tasting any was a lesson in self-discipline. Julio gave us an intro into tasting wine and explained that it broadly consists of three parts; visual, smell, taste. So we started off observing the wine and it was noticeably darker and more purple than most other red wines I’ve drank. Very fruity scent with lots of different red fruit flavours, I tend to prefer the more developed smelling wines but this was wonderful. As for the taste it was exactly as Julio described; very pleasant but not brimming with flavour. I felt I got more from the scent than the taste but some of the other French students said exactly the opposite so who knows! You will just have to come and try it.
After the initial taste we settled into it, trying each wine with all the different tasters of cheese and meat. Each combination created a new sensation and it was obvious how these particular pairings really enhanced the wine. I particularly enjoyed the meat with the wine but the olives were hard to leave alone too.
Before we knew it the time was up and the bottles were empty. We were all feeling quite jolly and the spittoons were bone dry. Everyone was just trying to save on the washing up I think, very considerate.
Another great little activity at the ILA French Immersion School in Montpellier, France. Met some new French students, learnt some more culture and vocabulary, got to practice my French a bit as well as enjoying a few glasses of lovely red wine. What more could you want!?