What to Know: Wine Tasting in the Cotes de Provence
As expected, wine tasting in Provence is different from in both Napa and Mendoza, so here are some things to note before you go:
- No appointments are necessary. Just show up, and if they're open you can taste. This is a huge difference from the tasting protocol in Argentina!
- There are NO tasting fees. You read right, it is free to taste wine!
- Tipping the staff at a winery is NOT expected or necessary.
- There are NO snacks or crackers in the tastings rooms, so bring your own or plan to stop for lunch.
- All the wineries take a long 'siesta-like' lunch break and will be closed for a few hours in the afternoon. Most chateaus we visited opened around 9-10 am, closed for lunch between 12 pm and 3 pm, then opened up again from 3 pm to 6 pm. Keep in mind though that the hours vary hugely depending on the day, month, château, and staff.
- The tastings are surprisingly casual. Just walk in, the staff will ask what you want to taste, and then they'll pour from there. You can taste one wine or all of them, but don't expect much conversation or information unless you ask.
- Rosé reigns here...so don't diss the pink wine. It's not your Grandma's 'blush' wine, and is taken just as seriously as any red. Most places will have three or four Rosés to taste, and it is by far the most popular wine in the region.
- The wineries are pretty far apart, so the best way to go wine tasting is either by car or bike. We walked one day and it's doable, but the distances between the chateaus are a lot farther than they seem. I'd personally recommend biking. There is this great pedestrian/bike path which winds alongside the main road and takes you through many of the nearby wineries in La Londe. We loved it since we felt safe off the main road, covered a lot of ground, and still got to see the scenery.
- Words to know:
Combien: how much?
Cubi: box of wine (5L or 10L)
- Now the biggest surprise of all...BOXED WINE IS HUGE HERE! And its high quality stuff. You wouldn't want to age it for 20 years, but it's great for drinking now. Imagine: The French. Boxing wine...But more on that later ;)