OUI! Wednesday: French Wine 101

Learning about French culture would not be complete without an exploration of French food and wine. The exhibition Intimate Impressionism with its gorgeous still lifes of food provided a great excuse to study French cheese, wine, and pastry during the weekly afternoon series, OUI! Wednesdays: Bon Appétit.


Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Milk Jug and Fruit, ca. 1900. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Gift of the W. Averell Harriman Foundation in memory of Marie N. Harriman.

For the French wine tasting, the sommelier from The Monterey, Steven Todd, selected three wines, the first of which was Domaine de Guillaman, Colombard & Ugni Blanc 2012. 

This white wine from the Côtes de Gascogne is a vin de pays, considered to be the second tier of French wine after Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or AOC. Located in the region of Armagnac region famous for the brandy of the same name, the Côtes de Gascogne is nestled between Toulouse on the east and the Atlantic on the west and is one of the few wine regions of the southwest that produces primarily white wines. Colombard and Ugni Blanc refer to the types of grapes that make up the wine while Domaine de Guillaman is the name of the winery. Guests sniffed, swished, and tasted as Steven instructed.

The second wine took us to further east to the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, just north of Marseille and northwest of Aix-en-Provence. The Provence region is known for having some of the best dry rosés and Domaine Saint Aix Rosé 2013 is no exception. Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence is a full AOC and has been producing wine since the 15th century. The ample sunshine of the Mediterranean climate provides ideal harvest conditions. This delicate and crisp wine pairs well with grilled fish, salads, and Asian food.

Our last tasting brought us back west of Montpellier near the city of Carcasssone for a red wine, Racines de la Terre Malbec 2013. This 100% Malbec wine is estate grown, meaning that the winery makes wine from grapes grown on their property as opposed to importing grapes from other areas. The vineyard has been producing wine for over 100 years and also falls into the second tier of wine quality, vin de pays, here called vin d’oc because it comes from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Guests admired the crimson color of this wine, which pairs well with sausage, barbecue, and soft-ripened cheeses. Perfect for south Texas cuisine!

Nothing brings people together like wine. It was fun to see new friends clinking glasses and sharing their thoughts on the different wines. 

Though OUI! Wednesdays come to close at the end of Intimate Impressionism, Wednesday afternoon programming continues as Art-FULL Wednesdays this spring and more food programs are on the calendar!