There is, of course, always champagne.
There exists a text that circulates on the Internet, purportedly by Anna de Pommery, in which she claims never to drink champagne – with a few exceptions. These exceptions are then listed and amazingly, covers every conceivable aspect of her life.
So, you could, when sitting down for a lunch, or supper, in a French restaurant, start with champagne – sometimes simply referred to as, ”le coup (de)”, which indicates a hankering for the number one effervescent beverage. Champagne is a beverage? Yes, and Sole Walewska is a dead fish.
Unfortunately, champers is costly. Even if there are other fizzy wines, you are left feeling that, ordering cremant, you are having it because you can’t afford, or, are too stingy, to order TheRealMcCoy. So.
In times of spring, the young man’s heart turns lightly to thoughts of rosé, particularly if he is close to the Mediterranean, a bowl of black olives has been placed before him, and cikadas are singing in the close vicinity, in which case he is temporally confused as that would indicate it no longer is spring but rather summer. Even though there are quite decent rosé wines at affordable prices, most likely you will be offered an uninteresting pale pink alcoholic fluid from a bottle that costs EU 2.50 in the corner shop across the street (they have better, though, and their vegetables are quite good, actually, in the corner shop, I mean). There might even be ice cubes in it*).
So, why not a little glass of white?
I sometimes find that the little glass of white, in the good places, express a bit of their soul. Like the swords of a samurai? How they would like to be seen. Try it. When the waiter asks if you would like an aperitif, mention, casually, ”le p’tit verre de vin blanc”, see what he/she comes up with.
Here are a few examples:
Starting in the Roya valley, in Tende, our favorite hotel (or one of them) Miramonti, which is a rustic, but warm and friendly place, with a restaurant dimensioned for mountain hikers who will want big portions of carbohydrates and beverages served in no nonsense helpings. Here, I got, a Côte du Rhone, white, from Beaume de Venise – yes, a dry white BdV, but, quite obviously a good helping of Muscat grapes had ended up in their non-fortified … aromatic in a robust and hearty way, paving the way for a good serving of pasta.
Next, Vin sur Vin, in Rue Biscarra, off Jean Medecin, in Nice. A great little place to have a lunch when rushing about the town in and out of the shops, and a nice choice of open wines – there is always something, even if it tends to be more from the South than form the North. Their offer was a very idiosyncratic mix: Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, without oak (oaking VIognier is a hanging offense, by the way, have I mentioned that?), very aromatic, very crisp, nicely refreshing acidity …
Going up-market a bit. A restaurant with some pretentions, the Villa Garibaldi (”Luxe d’espace et naturel fashion”, to quote from their own web page, don’t ask me what they mean) where we landed by misfortune a dark and stormy night … we were the first guests for the evening, we were asked to have a seat in the lobby bar and asked whether we would fancy an apero … and, in response to ”le p’tit verre de vin blanc, SVP” he pours a Meursault Charmes 1er Cru 2009 … slightly youngish, admittedly but … and, then he turns on the lounge music and it’s BB King singing and playing ”The Thrill is Gone” and life has suddenly got a new glow (I am an avid fan of the old blues guys).
Definitely up-market: Cordeillan Bages, in Medoc, which is a one star restaurant in the old school with white linen table cloth and everything, and where the lunch menu is good value at EU 60 if you want to eat in styel (always go to the star restaurants for lunch, is my motto – you get almost all of it but with a reduction in price). Here, in an elegant glass (Riedel?) I was served a white from Ch Lagrange in St Joseph, ”Arums de Lagrange” – pure bliss, me hearties. Pure bliss. And a harbinger of good things to come – undoubtedly one of the best meals I have had so far in 2015, and am likely to have forthwith. Recommended with a vengeance.
L’abus d’alcool est dangereux pour la santé. Consommer avec moderation.
*) Except in ”Saveurs & Anthocyans” in 10, r Giofreddo, in Nice, where the rosé by glass is excellent, truly.