Vendée – a small region in West-Central France – has been my new home for the past week. As lucky as we were to have beautiful weather, we did get caught in some rain. And what else is there better to do on a rainy day than go for a friendly “wine cave” tour? Nothing at all. What made is so much sweeter is that it was unexpected. As the rain ruined our promenade outside as planned, Roland, Odile and I (the parent’s of a friend who I’m visiting) were left wondering what to do, so Roland stopped on our way home to show me where he buys his wine to fill his “cave” (a place in the house literally stocked with wine).
They literally buy it in bulk in many homes here, being less expensive and supporting local wineries at the same time. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t the gigantic clear barrells filled with red and white wine.
He also showed us how the wine is preserved, and how it goes from grapes, to juice, to alcohol. After enjoying a glass of a light fruity white wine, Muscadet, he sent me home with the glass as a souvenir!
All of this would have sufficed, but our luck continued as he called his friend, who was meanwhile bottling the wine. There, we were shown similar aspects (separation of the grapes and preservation of wine) but also how the wine goes from the gigantic barrells to bottles, using a fire-fighting sized hose and vacumming system. I watched how the bottles are sterilyzed, filled and corked, then packed into a case about half the size of the back of a pickup truck.
I already enjoyed a fruity glass of red, but now, with the memories and knowledge, it will only taste that much better.