Pont Neuf, 1er Arrondissement, 75001 Paris
Our Wine Pick | Pinot Gris, 2009, Domaine Blanck
There are wine people, and then there are not wine people. Between these two groups lies an ever-widening chasm carved out from decades of poncy wine talk and people who insist that to truly enjoy a glass of vino, you need to be able to recite the Oxford Companion to Wine off by heart. This has left most of us normalish people feeling confused, disillusioned and even petrified at the thought of having to choose between a semi-oaked Chardonnay and a fruity Chenin Blanc on any wine list. Wine is intriguing, delicious, mystical… but sometimes it makes you want to run for the hills.
So this is why we – two friends who are often mistaken for sisters/life partners/hobbits – decided to create a little online space where we can share snippets of our newly-acquired wine knowledge and passion in a way that doesn’t sound like we come from some far-out 18th century wine cult. At the moment we’re both studying a Master’s in Wine Business in Dijon, which is in the heart of France’s famous Burgundy wine region (and yes, okay, it’s famous for mustard too, but we’re somewhat less enthused about the latter). It has taken quite some time for us get past being totally intimidated by wine, and we hope that through Chalk & Cheese we can share all the wonderful things about our favourite drink, as well as the beautiful culture and lifestyle surrounding it.
To inaugurate our blog, last Saturday we decided to head to Paris for the day and cracked open a bottle of white wine we bought on a recent trip through the Alsace wine region in North-Eastern France. We were meeting up with some old university friends, Federico and Marcel, so to celebrate the occasion we met up on a little piece of land which sticks out into the Seine, just beneath Pont Neuf which is the oldest bridge in Paris. In many ways it was quite symbolic to reunite with friends on the island situated right in the heart of the city, dividing the uppity citizens of the right bank from the artsy bohemian types on the left. For us, this reflects how we have come to feel about wine – for thousands of years it’s been a drink of friendship, conviviality and authenticity, and we think it should be something which sits right in the middle of the conversation uniting people, instead of excluding them.
To begin with our ‘wine 101’, we thought we would start by sharing a bottle of Pinot Gris in plastic cups, because when you’re traveling on trains glass isn’t all that practical, you know? (Also, we’re trying to show that wine can be enjoyed drunk from any kind of vessel. Heh heh.) Essentially, Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio for all the Italians out there) is the name of a white grape variety like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, which has become extremely popular in the past while (even Drew Barrymore has her own brand of Pinot Gris from California). If Pinot Gris makes an appearance at your party, simply consider it the fifth friend of the group – she’s sweet and unobtrusive but knows how to get the conversation flowing. It’s no wonder Pinot Gris is the world’s fad wine du jour.
We’re going to be talking wine basics in the coming weeks – so if you don’t know your Merlot from your Cab Franc, or you have no idea how to choose a bottle of wine when you’re confronted by your supermarket’s monstrous selection, we’ve got you covered. More coming very soon!