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Tagged articles : Christmas

Last minute Christmas gifts for wine lovers


For your Christmas gifts, there are now just two weeks left to go.  If you are looking for an original Christmas gift for a wine lover, the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Christmas gift packs can be delivered for orders received up to the 20th December for deliveries outside of France and the 21st December for mainland France.  For the really last minute gifts, an email version of the certificate can be sent for orders received up to 12:30 on the 24th December, and the welcome pack will follow after Christmas.

Last minute Christmas gift for wine lovers.  Adopt-a-vine in France.

To surprise a wine lover this Christmas, adopt some vines for their Christmas present.  You can choose from our 8 partner wineries, all of which are organically certified.   For a wine-making year, they will follow the making of their organic wine, right up until the bottling of their personalised wine bottles at the end of the experience.

Wine Experience Christmas Gift.  Rent a vine in France and make your personalised bottles of wine

And to make the wine gift more hands on, you can add a Discovery Experience Day in the vineyard with the winemaker to learn all about the work on the vines to prepare them for harvest.  Or you can include a Harvest Experience Day to pick the grapes and follow their journey into the fermentation tanks or a Vinification Experience Day to learn about what happens to the wine once it is in the cellar.  All of the days take place from 09:30 to 16:00, and allow a total immersion into the life of a winemaker by getting involved in the work and by sharing a meal and tasting the wines.

Last minute Christmas gift for wine lovers.  Make your own-labeled bottles of wine

All of our partner vineyards are organically or biodynamically certified, and all of our winemakers are selected for being passionate about their profession.  They will welcome you with open arms to share their knowledge and passion!

Wine experience gift in a French organic vineyard.

Our personalised Christmas wine gift boxes are sure to delight, and the welcome gift pack includes some presents to use straight away, a wine cooler bag, a re-usable glass wine stopper, a DropStop to make sure you don’t spill any of your precious wine, and a personalised vine adoption certificate.

 

More information on 2016 Christmas deliveries
More information on the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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Party wines – Champagne and other types of sparkling wines


The ends of year festivities are the perfect time to open a nice bottle of bubbly.  Champagne, cremant, cava, prosecco, sparkling wine... countries and regions throughout the world produce a range of different types of bubbly.  The characteristic that they all have in common?  Bubbles!  But do you know how the bubbles form, what the different types of sparkling wines are, and how to understand the different labels?  To reign in the scope of this article a little, we’ll just concentrate on the different forms found in France.

 

Adopt-a-vine gift in the French vineyards

 

What is a sparkling wine?

A sparkling wine is the opposite from a still wine.  You can see little bubbles that rise to the surface.  These bubbles are caused by carbon dioxide which is released when the bottle is opened.

The styles of the different sparkling wines can vary, but since 2008 they have been regulated at a European level.  There are:
- “Vins perlants” are the least bubbly.  The wine is said to be “perlant” when it has more than 1 gramme of CO² per litre of wine.  The bubbles are sometimes almost invisible.  Examples are a Gaillac wine or some Savoie wines.
- “Vins pétillants” contain between 2 and 4 grammes of CO² per litre.  For example a Cerdon or Vouvray.
- “Vins Mousseux” have more than 4.5 grammes of CO² per litre.  Champagnes and Crémants fall into this category.

The amount of fizz is therefore what counts in this classification system.  For the mousseux sparkling wines, there is then a sub-classification level, defining the wines as “Brut nature”, “Brut”, “Extra Brut”, “Extra Sec”, “Sec”, “Demi-Sec” or “Doux”, which describes the amount of sugar added by the “liqueur d’expédition”.   The liqueur is a mix of wine and sugar which is added when using certain vinification methods to replace the wine lost during the “dégorgement” or disgorging, as we’ll explain a little later on.

 

Wine tasting course as a Christmas gift

 

But where do the bubbles come from?

When we open a bottle, we can see bubbles for two reasons.

Physics first.  Before opening the bottle, the CO² gas is dissolved in the wine, and we can’t see the bubbles.  When we open the bottle the pressure inside dramatically falls to equal the ambient atmospheric pressure.  That is why the cork can also fly out.  And when the pressure falls, the volume of the gas increases, the molecules reform into gas and rise to the surface of the wine.

And secondly, we can see the bubble of gas form and rise because of the tiny bumps present on the inside of the bottle and in our glasses.  If we opened the same bottle in laboratory conditions with zero impurities in the containers, the gas would escape into the air without forming any bubbles.

 

Sparkling Wine and oenology lessons in France

 

How do you make different types of sparkling wines?

There has to be some gas initially in the bottle to get some fizz.  And in order to attain this, there are different vinification methods used.

The most famous is the “méthode champenoise”, also known as the “méthode traditionnelle” or traditional method, when not used for making champagne.  Since 1994, the term “méthode champenoise” is regulated and can only be used for wines from the Champagne region.  The vinification process is the same as for a still wine, and the wine is then bottled as usual.  Part of the wine is kept to one side to be used later to make the liqueur d’expédition.  Some of this wine is then added along with some sugar and yeast into each bottle.  The wine then starts to ferment again, this time directly in the bottle, and the gas that is produced during fermentation is trapped inside.  Once all of the sugar has been used by the yeast, the fermentation stops.  Lees are also produced in the process, so the wine is laid down on racks for a while to let them settle.  Then the bottles are placed with the neck pointing downwards and each day they are turned 1/8 to a ¼ of a turn, a process known as riddling, to try and collect all of the lees in the neck of the bottle.  The lees are then removed during the disgorging whereby the neck of the bottle is frozen before opening and taking out the ice that has the lees trapped inside.  The bottle is then topped up again with the liqueur d’expédition, before being sealed again with the final cork.

In the “méthode par transfert” or the transfer method, the process is the same for the fermentation period, but there isn’t any disgorging.  Instead the wine is completely removed from the bottle, the lees filtered out in a vat, and the liqueur d’expédition added before being returned to the cleaned bottles.

The “méthode ancestrale” (or rurale or artisanale) is when the first fermentation takes place in the bottle.  The wine is put into the bottles very quickly after the harvest so that the alcoholic fermentation occurs inside.

The “méthode de la cuve close” or Charmat method works on the same principle, but in the vat instead of inside the bottle for the fermentaion.  When the wine is transferred to the bottles, a little gas is lost, but which can be replaced by adding some CO².

And then there is also the “gazéification” or soda method which doesn’t use the gas released during the fermentation period, but simply adds CO² from a carbonator to a still wine before bottling.

Whichever style of bubbly you choose, enjoy the fizz, and have fun during the end of year celebrations!

Other related articles

What wines will you drink during the end of year festivities?

How to go about pairing food and wine?

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What wines will you drink during the end of year festivities?


The wine, food and cooking magazines are full of ideas for dishes to enjoy over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, and our taste buds are already getting excited as we start planning the meals that we will share with our friends and family this year.  And of course, which wines we will be opening?  We asked members of the Gourmet odyssey team to share a few ideas.

When it comes to pairing food and wine, we each have our own individual tastes, desires and convictions, even if there are a few basic rules to guide us.  The fun is being inspired by browsing the shelves of the wine merchants, meeting the winemakers at wine fairs or at the winery, or by researching in the magazines and blogs.  Here are a few suggestions that we will be trying out!


Myriam, our wine guide for Burgundy


Myriam, our wine guide in Burgundy


I love: A Saint Romain 2015 white wine from Domaine Franck Lamargue
To accompany: A pumpkin and foie gras velouté with gingerbread.  A great party dish.

I love: A Chambolle Musigny 2015 from Domaine Patrick Clémencet
To accompany: A dark chocolate and blackcurrant dessert!


Louise, our wine guide for the Loire Valley


Louise, our wine guide in the Loire Valley


I love: A Saumur red, Empreinte, from Domaine des Garennes, in Montreuil.
To accompany: Some game in a nice sauce, the perfect match for this powerful wine.


I love: A Touraine Sauvignon Les Devants de la Bonnelière white wine from Château de la Bonnelière, in Chinon.
To accompany: A lemon and cream chicken between friends.


Jacqueline, our wine guide for the Rhône Valley


Jacqueline, our wine guide in the Rhone Valley


I love: An Orto di Venezia 2011 from Michel Thoulouse, produced on the San Erasmo island in the Venice lagoon.  
To accompany: Some simple large Italian breadsticks, ideally as the sun sets revealing the wonderful winter twilight.
Comments: A very elegant wine with a nice amber colour.  The wine has a slightly smokey taste.

I love: A Beaujolais Nouveau 2016 from Château Cambon
To accompany: a vegetable and goat’s cheese quiche shared with friends.
Comments: This wine is a torrent of fruit and tastes that explode with joy on your palate.


Mark, the boss and our wine guide for Alsace, Burgundy and Bordeaux


Mark, our wine guide in the Alsace, Burgundy and Bordeaux


I love: A vin jaune L’Etoile from Domaine Joly, in Rotalier.
To accompany: A chicken marinated and slowly cooked in a vin jaune sauce.  A great winter dish after a good family walk.

I love: the Ante Phylloxera Chinon red from Château de la Bonnelière in the Loire Valley.
To accompany: A capon stuffed with morille mushrooms.  
Comments: This very rare wine heralds from a tiny walled plot of vines that survived the outbreak of phylloxera in 1860.


Marie, the editor


Marie, our editor

I love: A Saint-Joseph red wine from Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne, in Mauve.
To accompany: Stuffed quails with the family during the holidays.

I love: A Petit Chablis from Domaine Laventureux, à Lignorelles.
To accompany: A cheese evening with friends.

I love: A Pinot Gris Rosenberg white wine from Domaine Stentz-Buecher, in Wettolsheim.
To accompany: Some asparagus verrines to have something a little lighter!


And there you have a quick tour de France (and Italy!) for a few food and wine pairing suggestions.  At the moment there are lots of food and wine fairs, so stop by one local to you and treat your taste buds!  Practice makes perfect


Other related articles

How to go about pairing food and wine?

Christmas and end of year celebrations. What are you serving this year?

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Noël de la French Tech – Gourmet Odyssey Wine Gift Experiences Selected


Once again the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience was picked among the best Christmas gift ideas by Le Noël de la French Tech!  The aim of this organisation is to support start-up companies with the most innovative Christmas gift ideas.  The adopt-a-vine experience from Gourmet Odyssey was selected for inclusion in their list of the best 200 Christmas gifts.

Innovative Christmas Gift.  Adopt some vines in France and make your own organic wine

Le Noël de la French Tech chose the Wine Experience for the second year running for its originality.  This wine-making experience gift enables you to adopt some vines in an organic French vineyard and follow the making of your own personalised bottles of wine.

More than just a simple winery tour or wine-tasting class, adopting some vines is a unique way to discover the passionate world of wine by getting involved in the key stages of making organic wine.  It also gives you a privileged contact with the winemakers to learn more about their fascinating profession.

 

Wine Experience gift presented at the Champs-Elysées launch event

 

Once the recipient has received their personalised adopt-a-vine certificate, they will continue to enjoy their gift through newsletters and photos from the winemaker.  And you can also choose to include one or more wine experience days at the winery.

The Gourmet Odyssey packages are available from €159.  To learn more about adopting vines, please visit www.GourmetOdyssey.com.

And to browse the list of 2016 Christmas gift ideas, visit the Noël de la French Tech Christmas gift list.

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Christmas and end of year celebrations. What are you serving this year?


With just a week left until Christmas, and the start of the end of year celebrations, it’s high time that we started thinking about what we’re going to put on our plates and fill our glasses with! Last year, we gave a few tips on pairing food and wine. This year, each of us in the Gourmet Odyssey office team has different plans for Christmas, so we thought we would share our menus with you!

Marie – the mountain menu

For those of you who, like me, will be spending Christmas in the mountains, it would be a shame not to include the local cheese specialties that are always so mouth watering! The problem is that the cheeses each have their own flavours and textures, so are best accompanied by a different wine. Here are a few of the pairings that I’m going to try this year.

The Swiss or Savoyarde fondue – always delicious

First of all, the famous cheese fondue. I choose the Swiss “half and half” method. I’m leaning towards a white wine, something round but strong enough to support the fat of the vacherin fribourgeois and gruyere cheeses that make up this dish. The traditional wines to go with it would be a Rousette from Savoie, a Riesling from Alsace, or a Côtes du Jura. I’m going to go all out Swiss, and serve a Fendant du Valais 2012 from Domaine Berthod Vogel, a really nice fruity wine.

A raclette, perfect for winter evenings

 

 

The Colline red wine from Domaine la Cabotte

And what to serve with a good old Savoyarde raclette? A fruity red with good acidity to compensate for the richness if the raclette, such as the local and very good Mondeuse, a Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône. Those who prefer white wine could opt for a Roussette or Riesling. I’m going to try a red Côtes du Rhône Colline 2013 from Domaine la Cabotte, a wine that I know well and have often tasted during the Gourmet Odyssey Experience Days.

The Sassenage cheese can be used in many hot dishes

I’m going to finish with the Sassenage, a blue cheese from the Vercors region near Grenoble. My first instinct is to go for a sweet wine such as a Banyuls, Barsac or a Port. I’ve also got a Macvin du Jura in the cellar which would be perfect. But I think I’ll serve this cheese with the aperitif of an organic Vercors ale that is slightly bitter and fruity, and produced locally.

Vercors beer

I haven’t really done a menu because it’s all cheese related, but it’s all local to where I’ll be and it’s all so good, and over the course of a week, I should be able to test all of the variations!

Ines – the semi-gastronomic menu

In my family, the Christmas meal is the occasion to spoil ourselves and to enjoy food that we don’t normally prepare. Here is what I’ll be serving this year.

St Jacques scallops on a bed of leak purée

 

 

La Boissoneuse from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard

For the starter, I’m going to gently fry some St Jacques scallops and serve them on a bed of puréed leaks. The perfect match is a dry white wine to bring out the best in the St Jacques, so I’m thinking a Chablis, and have chosen the Boissonneuse from our partner, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.

Veal and cep mushrooms

Having treated our taste buds with the starter, I’ve chosen a delicious veal steak with creamy cep sauce (my mouth is watering already!). I’m hesitating between two wines to go with it, and my mind keeps changing between a wine from the Loire or a Gigondas? A light and fruity Ludovic 2013 St Nicolas de Bourgeuil from Domaine de la Chopinière du Roy that will enhance the veal, or a more full bodied Cuvée Suprème Gigondas from Domaine des Florets that will perfectly match my little creamy ceps. At least I still have a few days left to decide, but Christmas is fast approaching!

Baked Mont d’Or

After the delicious starter and the rich flavour of the main course, we’ll have to leave some room for the cheese! This year, I’ve opted for a vacherin de Mont d’Or and a roquefort. Mmmm - there’s nothing better than a runny vacherin that’s been baked in the oven! I’ll open a bottle of Jurançon, a nice sweet wine that will withstand the strong taste of the roquefort.

The millefeuille

And to end on a sweet note, we’re going for a classic. A millefeuille served with a glass of champagne! The bubbles will bring some freshness and acidity to go with the sweetness of the desert, and a light note after a good meal!

Mark – The entente-cordiale menu

My family is half French and half English, so my Christmas meal draws inspiration from both cultures.

Oysters, deliciously simple as a starter

It’s a long and festive meal for both sides of the family, so I prefer to start the meal with something light and fresh, and for that, I’ve adopted the French tradition of serving oysters. I’m going to go for some fines de claires, and I’ll try to be more careful when opening them this year, because last year I ate my Christmas lunch with my hand in a bandage, but that’s another story! And to go with the oysters, I like a nice fresh Sauvignon Blanc, and will go for a great biodynamic Menetou Salon from Domaine Philippe Gilbert. And you don’t need anything else for the starter except some good bread with a thick layer of salted butter.

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the crackers

Then it’s time for an English tradition between the starter and main course. The Christmas crackers! They go bang and inside is a little gift, a paper hat that no-one likes to wear, and a cheesy joke, but it’s fun! You can buy them, or else the best are hand-made by my sister.

For the main course, I’m fairly traditional. Normally I go for a turkey or goose, but this year I’m going to do a couple of roast guinea fowl with tarragon. I’ll serve some roast potatoes, my granny’s famous stuffing, and a basket of winter vegetables, brussel sprouts, parsnips and carrots. To go with it, I’m going to serve a Santenay Beaurepaire 2005 Premier Cru from our partner, Domaine Chapelle.

Santenay Beaurepaire Premier Cru from Domaine ChapelleSantenay Beaurepaire Premier Cru from Domaine Chapelle

I prefer my cheese the French way, before the dessert. I’m going to go for a Stilton with a late bottled vintage port, and for those that don’t like blue cheese, I’ll also have a choice of goats cheese, morbier and a mature comté.

Stilton, potted or by the wedge

Dessert poses more problems. Personally, I love Christmas pudding, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea! So I’ll have a second choice too. A lemon meringue tart with pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil. And at the end of the meal I like to let everyone go free-style with the wine, and go with the flow of the moment. Perhaps a Chinon Chapelle from Château de la Bonnelière or a Pinot Gris Hengst Grand Cru from Domaine Stentz-Buecher.

The stress of lighting the Christmas pudding

So that’s what the office team has in store this Christmas. We haven’t covered every base of the French and English cuisine, and everyone will have their own twist and favourite pairings, but we hope it gives a few ideas of matching food and wine. The secret is to know the wine that you are serving beforehand to avoid any unwanted surprises. It’s time we got back to the stove!

Other wine and food pairing related posts

How to go about pairing food and wine?

The fundamentals of wine tasting

Other Christmas related articles

Find the perfect Christmas gift for a wine lover

Wine gifts for Christmas – the Gourmet Odyssey selection

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Last minute Christmas Gifts for wine lovers


With just over two weeks left for your Christmas present shopping, if you're looking for a great Christmas gift idea for a wine enthusiast, the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience gift packs are able to be sent up until the 21st December for European countries outside France, and up until the 22nd December in France. And for those that are leaving it really to the last minute, an email version can be sent for all orders received before 12:30 on the 24th December, and the welcome pack will be delivered after Christmas.

Unique wine gifts, France

The perfect Christmas gift for wine lovers, you can adopt some vines in one of our 7 organic partner wineries. For a wine-making year, your recipient will follow the making of their wine in the vineyard and cellar, and will personalise their bottles of wine at the end of the experience.

Rent a vine in France

And you can also add a day at the winery, valid for two people. The Discovery Experience Day will get you involved and teach you all about the work in the vineyard necessary to bring the grapes to optimum maturity. The Harvest Experience Day will see you pick the grapes and follow their journey into the fermentation vats, and the Vinification Experience Day covers the work in the cellar to ferment, blend and age the wine. Each lasts a full day from 9:30 to 16:00, and enables you to work alongside the winemaker, share a meal, and taste the different wines from the estate.

Personnalised bottles of wine, France

All of our partner wineries are organically certified, and the winemakers are chosen for their passion of their profession. They’ll open up the fascinating world of winemaking to you and will welcome you with open arms.

Vineyard experience, France

With this unique and authentic approach to wine, your recipients are sure to appreciate their personalised Christmas gift. To have something to open from under the Christmas tree, the welcome pack includes a sommelier’s apron, a DropStop, personalised certificate and details of the chosen Wine Experience.

More information on delivery times for Christmas 2015.

More information about the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.

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Wine gifts for Christmas – the Gourmet Odyssey selection


For those of you who are looking for a Christmas gift for a wine lover, we thought you might like us to share a few ideas of wine accessory gifts that we have discovered on the web. Some we loved, some made us chuckle, and others might not be to everyone's taste, but we're sure they'll please someone out there! Here are some of those we found that might help you in your quest for a Christmas wine gift.

Practical wine accessory gifts for tasting wine anywhere

For wine fans that love to root out that rare wine or for those that don't miss any occasion to taste a wine, here are a few practical gift ideas for opening a bottle in any circumstances, and we really mean any!

- Take your wine everywhere with you

 

The Transbottle seen on Transbottle

The Transbottle seen on Transbottle

The wine box bag seen on Firebox

The wine box bag seen on Firebox

The wine mug seen on Amazon

The wine mug seen on Amazon

 


- Taste a wine for any occasion

The bath wine holder seen on Fancy

The bath wine holder seen on Fancy

The wine glass plate seen on Fancy

The wine glass plate seen on Fancy

The portable wine glass seen on Firebox

The portable wine glass seen on Firebox

 

Geek corner where wine meets technology

The wine gifts for those wine enthusiasts that appreciate a helping hand from technology to taste wines, or for those that still have a childish streak inside.

The electric corkscrew from CDiscount

The electric corkscrew from CDiscount

The instant wine cooler seen on Amazon

The instant wine cooler seen on Amazon

The Darth Vador corkscrew seen on Comment Se Ruiner

The Darth Vador corkscrew seen on Comment Se Ruiner

 

The must-have wine tasting accessories

The wine accessories that make great Christmas gifts for wine connoisseurs, and those that would welcome a practical gift to best serve and taste wine.

The magic decanter seen CDiscount

The magic decanter seen CDiscount

 

The Vacuvin seen on CDiscount

The Vacuvin seen on CDiscount

The wine aerator seen on Comment Se Ruiner

The wine aerator seen on Comment Se Ruiner

The Champagne sword seen on Sens Original

The Champagne sword seen on Sens Original

 

The classic wine gifts revisited by the designers

For the more design conscious wine lovers, here are a few designer wine gifts.

- Wine carafes

The boa carafe seen on Un Poil dans la Main

The boa carafe seen on Un Poil dans la Main

The heart carafe seen on Liviana Osti

The heart carafe seen on Liviana Osti

The deadly carafe seen on Fancy

 

The deadly carafe seen on Fancy

 


- Wine holders

The magic leather wine holder seen on Comment Se Ruiner

The magic leather wine holder seen on Comment Se Ruiner

The reindeer or elephant carafe seen on Etsy

The reindeer or elephant carafe seen on Etsy

The magic rope wine holder seen on Absolument Design 

The magic rope wine holder seen on Absolument Design


- Corkscrews

The pirate corkscrew seen on Amazon

The pirate corkscrew seen on Amazon

The unicorn corkscrew seen on Comment Se Ruiner

The unicorn corkscrew seen on Comment Se Ruiner

The skeleton corkscrew seen on CDicount

The skeleton corkscrew seen on CDicount

So there are a few present ideas to please wine lovers that we hope will give you some original Christmas gift ideas. All that's now left is to start preparing for Christmas meal, and the wine that you choose to accompany it!

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Find the perfect Christmas gift for a wine lover


In your search for the ideal Christmas present this year you're looking for an idea that is original, personalised, useful, practical to take with you, and wouldn't it be great if the gift was also organic and high-tech... Either Father Christmas is going to have fun trying to meet all of those criteria in the hunt for your Christmas present, or just maybe you are already on the Gourmet Odyssey blog, and you're almost there!

Wine gift packs, France

Our Wine Experiences make very original Christmas gift ideas. You can adopt some organic vines and give a personalised gift box containing the adoption certificate and access to the Client Portal to follow the progress of the making of your wine from the vine to the bottle.

Choose one of our organic partner winemakers from one of the seven major wine growing areas in France, decide how many vines you would like to adopt in your gift box, and set in motion a unique experience to discover the world of winemaking. Your recipient will follow the work of the winemaker in the vineyard and the cellar through the newsletters, photos and blog articles related to his wine and life at the selected winery. In no time at all, your recipient will be transformed into an environmentally friendly web wine-maker!

Unique wine gift, France

You can also make the Christmas gift more interactive by adding one or more of the three Wine Experience days at the winery during the wine-making year. It could be in the vineyard during the Discovery Experience Day to get involved in pruning, de-budding or training the vines, or picking the grapes during the Harvest Experience Day. Or else during the Vinification Experience Day, your recipient will learn about the work in the cellar and taste the wines during the ageing process to understand the choices the winemaker must take after the harvest period is over.

Wine making experience, France

All of the visits to the winery last at least 6 hours, the time necessary to go into enough detail to start to understand what it's really like to be a winemaker. The Wine Experience Days are participative, so we'll ask you to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. Each day includes wine tasting and lunch, and puts you in direct contact with the passionate winemakers.

Rent a vine, France

At the end of the experience, the winery will bottle your recipient's organic wine, complete with personalised wine labels. Something to savour for a long time to come, and remember your original Christmas gift by sharing a glass of wine among friends or family.

Personalised bottles of wine

The gift package you choose is flexible in terms of the vintage, number of vines, the selected winery, and whether you want to include one or more of the Wine Experience Days. The welcome gift pack can be delivered within a couple of days, and easily fits in a suitcase, or else can be delivered directly to your recipient, or even to an alternative address. The Christmas gift box includes a brochure explaining how to activate the Wine Experience online, a sommelier's apron and a DropStop so that your recipient has something to open straight away.

Wine lover gift

So how's that for the perfect Christmas gift idea? And if you are the one offering the present, maybe you'll get to enjoy some of the organic wine or get away on a weekend break to a French vineyard next year too!

Other articles relating to our partner winemakers

Meet our partner winemakers at the end of year wine fairs and wine tastings.

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Last minute Christmas gifts for wine lovers


There's just two weeks of shopping to go until Christmas, but luckily if you haven't yet finished (or even started !) buying your Christmas presents, the Gourmet Odyssey gift packs are available to be sent up to 12:30 Paris time on the 22nd December, depending on the destination country. For the very last minute gifts, we can also send a certificate by email for all orders received by 12:30 on the 24th December, and we'll post the welcome pack to arrive shortly after Christmas. Here are a few Christmas gift ideas for wine lovers.

Adopt some vines this Christmas for someone close in one of our 7 organic partner vineyards in France. For a winemaking year, they'll follow the evolution of their wine and will end up with their own personalised bottles of wine.

Participate in the harvest in a French vineyard

To complete this gift idea, you can also include one or more of the 3 Wine Experience Days at the winery. Participate in the work in the vineyard to help produce the best quality grapes during a Discovery Experience Day, or join the Harvest Experience Day to pick the grapes and follow their journey into the vat. The third option is the Vinification Experience Day to learn about the work in the cellar to ferment, age and blend the wines. Each day allows you to get involved in the work of the winemaker, to share a meal and taste wines from the winery.

The winemakers' lunch and wine tasting during the Experience Days

All of our partner winemakers are organically certified and are passionate about their profession. They'll welcome you with pleasure and will let you in behind the scenes to learn more about the fascinating world of wine.

This unique and authentic approach to wine makes a great personalised Christmas gift. To have something to put underneath the Christmas tree and open on Christmas day, the welcome pack contains a sommelier's apron, a DropStop, personalised certificate and more information about the chosen experience.

 

More information on Christmas delivery times

More information on the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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How to go about pairing food and wine?


With the end of year festivities nearly upon us, so we turn our thoughts to what culinary delights we are going to serve. And when we've gone to all the effort of preparing a special meal, it's only natural to open a good bottle of wine, or the bottle of wine that you've been saving up for just such an occasion! A good meal in good company can become an unforgettable moment, so it's well worth putting that extra little bit of thought in. And a few simple rules can help the task.

The basics

When serving several different types of wine during a meal, it's usually best to work your way up in quality as the meal progresses, or else you run the risk of being disappointed with anything that comes after the first wine served. Often, it's best to start with a more acidic wine, and to then go up in power, finishing with the smoothest wine, but of course, nothing is ever set in stone.

Sometimes the most obvious pairings are indeed the best. Regional dishes served with a local wine are often a winning bet. Wine paired with food of the same colour often goes well together. Red wines for red meats, and white wines with fish to cite the most obvious examples. Naturally, it doesn't mean that colours can never been mixed!

There are however a few combinations that are best avoided. Vinaigrette's generally don't go well with any type of wine, and red wines bring out the bitter side of exotic fruit.

Food and wine pairing by our partner vineyard Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard

 

Pairing ideas for Christmas

The apéritif and the dessert

Often, a sweet wine is served to start with the aperitif or starter. You need to be careful though not to saturate the taste buds, which will then be less receptive to the dishes that follow.

Sometimes champagne is served with the dessert. Whilst this can work, it can be preferable to serve the champagne at the beginning of the meal, as the bubbles will bring freshness and an acidic sensation to help sharpen the taste buds in preparation for the meal to come.

Oysters
We usually match oysters with dry white wines. Fresh, acidic white wines go well, as do slightly saline wines. Riesling wines from Alsace, Chablis and some white Crozes Hermitage can be great, as well of course as a good Muscadet aged on its lees.

Game

Wild game is often strong in flavour and accompanied by a rich and spicy sauce. More complex red wines will go best with this type of dish. For example a Saint-Joseph, a Pic Saint Loup or a Medoc for feathered game, or a Saint-Emilion, Fitou or Minervois for bigger game.

Turkey

To avoid accentuating the dryness of the meat from this bird, its best to go for an elegant wine, red or white, that will bring some freshness. A good red wine from Beaujolais or the Loire, or a white wine from Burgundy or the Cotes du Jura should do you well. For a fruitier wine, try a Mercurey or a Maçon.

Desserts and chocolate

It's time to bring out the sweeter wines, and in France there are a few which go really well, such as a Maury, Banyuls, Rasteau or Madiran.

 

A few less classic matches

Cheese and white wine

More and more people are choosing to serve a white wine with cheese. At Christmas time, some cheeses go particularly well with this association. For example a Vacherin de Mont d'Or with a Côtes du Jura, or a Comté with a "Vin de Paille". Blue cheeses such as a Roquefort go very well with a Sauternes or a port.

Fish and red wine

With its tender and delicate flesh, fish is best suited to delicate wines. A Pinot Noir from Beaune or Volnay can help underline its subtlety.


An original example of food and wine pairing from our partner winery, Allegria

 

Food and wine pairing by our partner vineyard Domaine Allegria

A few months ago now, Domaine Allegria, near Pézenas, worked together with the Cigalon restaurant in Geneva to create a special food and wine tasting evening. The following is the description of their original menu.

To start with, a trio of tuna, salmon and oysters served in a paupiette, matched with the Cinsault Abuelo 2012 red wine from the winery. The tannins of the Cinsault Abuelo are very soft, and the wine has a slightly saline touch on the palate which marries very well with seafood.

The second course was roasted wild prawn on a bed of green papaya, accompanied by the Tribu d'A 2012 white wine. The association with the note of fennel present in the white wine is great. The green papaya brings an acidic touch, making for a very fresh dish.

For the main course, the most unexpected of the evening's pairings. A fillet of red mullet on a bed of wild rice from the Piémont, accompanied by La Belle Histoire 2009. On the powerful meat of the red mullet, the Belle Histoire 2009, revealed velvety tannins, and sumptuous intense aromas.

For pudding, poached pear with spices, served with the Miel Monastrel 2011, a naturally sweet red wine.

 

Of course pairing food and wine is limitless, and fortunately so! There are as many possible pairings as people around the table, and we each have our personal preferences. One thing that is sure though, is that to find that pearl of a match, you have to test different combinations of food and wine, and you have to admit that there are worse ways to spend your time

 

 

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Choose your fridge to keep your wine


At Christmas time, the gift ideas for wine lovers abound, and one of the popular ideas is a wine fridge. There is a very varied range of options to choose from with differing functionalities. The price can vary from between 500 and 15 000 euros depending on the model, so how do you choose between them?

A reminder on how to best conserve wines

To best store and age your wines in the optimum conditions, it's best to have as stable a temperature as possible, between 10 and 14°C. You also need to adapt the humidity depending on the length you wish to keep the wines. The wine should also be shielded from light and protected from vibrations because these can speed up the ageing process. For more information on storing wines, please refer to our article « Storing and serving wine for the festive season ».

 

Wine fridges for different purposes

Given the range of price and the different capabilities of the wine fridges, your choice will be made according to your budget and the person for whom the gift will be made. An adept wine connoisseur with precious wines to store will likely have more precise requirements than someone who wants a machine to simply bring the wines to the desired temperature before serving.

Generally speaking there are three types of wine fridge. Those designed for keeping wines for a long period where the temperature is kept constant at about 12°C throughout the fridge. The capacity can vary between 170 and 230 bottles for the largest ones, depending on the type of bottles to be stored.

Serving fridges are designed for the opposite purpose, not for storing wines, but for stocking them anywhere between a few hours or days before opening. The idea is to bring the wine to the ideal temperature for serving. They generally have a smaller capacity, between 10 and 40 bottles. The most advanced models have several zones to set different temperatures, enabling red wines to be warmed slightly, and white wines to be chilled at the same time.

And then there are general purpose wine fridges that enable all of the above, to either store or prepare wines for serving, with zones in the fridge ranging from 7 to 20°C. Some even allow open bottles to be stored in a vacuum to keep them a few days longer. But be careful, because general purpose doesn't always mean quality and efficiency! What are the criteria to take into account when buying a wine fridge?

 

The questions to ask

The first point to check is how the fridge is to be used. Storing wines for a long time, bringing wines to the correct temperature, or for storing a small number of bottles for example. Depending on the use, you'll choose between the three different types mentioned above. Another factor to take into account is whether the humidity level needs to be controlled. This is less important if the wines are to be stored for a relatively short period of time, compared to laying bottles down for many years.

Where the fridge will be located is the next question to ask. The available space will determine the dimensions. The design will also be more or less important depending on how visible the fridge will be. For the very design conscious, be aware however of glass doors, which aren't recommended for long term storage. It's better to go for solid or anti-UV treated doors.

It's also good to check the energy rating of the fridge, which has to be legally mentioned. The rating from A to C is specific to wine fridges and is useful to consider, because they can consume lots of energy.

The last advice is to go and physically see the fridges because you can also evaluate other factors such as the amount of noise it generates if you live in a relatively confined space, or the style if it is to feature in the middle of your living room.

 

So even though, there may be a large choice available, hopefully these few pointers will help you find the type of wine fridge best suited to your budget and use. All that's left to do is get out there and do some shopping

 

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A great Christmas gift for wine lovers. Adopt-a-vine in France.


Christmas is approaching and you are once again on the quest to find some original Christmas gift ideas. If so, this article is for you! More in depth and participative than a personalised bottle of wine or a traditional wine course, give some adopted vines and the opportunity to follow the making of their own personalised vintage over the course of a winemaking year.

 

Vines adoption as en original gift for christmas

Rather than hesitating over which bottle of wine to choose, turn them into an apprentice winemaker. They'll follow the progress of their adopted vines and all of the work in the cellar until their wine is made and bottled, together with their own personalised wine labels.

 

Personalised wine bottles as a gift for Christmas

And if they are the type that like to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in, why not send them to one of our partner wineries for one or more Wine Experience Days, where they will be able to meet the winemaker, see their adopted vines, and share a winemaker's meal with a tasting of the vineyard's wines?

 

Spend time at the winery to learn what it?s actually like to be a winemaker

All of the days are accessible to novices as well as those with a more in depth wine knowledge. Through hands on participation, the days are focused to give an insight into what it's actually like to be a winemaker, and to gain a better understanding of all the work and decisions necessary to make a quality wine. There are three types of Experience Days; the Discovery Experience Day to learn more about the work in the vineyard to produce the best quality grapes possible, the Harvest Experience Day to pick the grapes and follow their journey into the fermentation tanks, and the Vinification Experience Day to track the work in the cellar to ferment, age, blend and bottle the wine.

 

Wine course for fermenting, ageing and bottling the wine

All of our partner winemakers are organically or biodynamically certified, and are passionate about sharing the love of their profession. They will welcome you with pleasure and will talk about their daily life, the methods they have chosen to adopt to make their wine, and their commitment to making their wine as environmentally friendly as possible.

Personalised wine experience gifts in a nice welcome pack

To find out more about our unique and authentic approach to discovering the world of winemaking, take a look at our personalised Christmas wine experience gifts. Your recipient will be sure to remember this original and participative gift for a long time to come. And this year, it won't just be Father Christmas who'll need to get his boots on!

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Holidaying in France? A good excuse to make a few gastronomic pit stops


With just a few weeks to go before the holidays, the Gourmet Odyssey team has toured France to put together a few suggestions of gastronomic and wine addresses to keep spirits up!

For those who are headed to the warmer climes in the south of France, the Bordeaux region is famed the world over for its wine-making prowess. In between visiting the numerous château, take the time to meander along the routes des vins. If you pass Macau-en-Médoc, stop off at the Tonellerie Nadalié, the cooperage owned by the family of Christine Nadalié, our partner winemaker at Château Beau Rivage. Making barrels is a truly fascinating sight, and a real art form. Whilst you're there enjoy a meal at the excellent 1902 restaurant.

Cooperage visit Bordeaux France Nadalié

Further south again, and you'll find yourself in the Languedoc-Rousillon region, steeped in history with its medieval villages and monuments, and vast mountainous landscapes. Surprise yourself by the depth and variety of its cuisine and wine, and if you're passing Pézenas, stop off for some wine tasting at Domaine Allegria, and admire the chai, which is a striking example of contemporary and environmentally friendly architecture.

Contemporary and environmentally friendly chai Languedoc France

Coming back up the Rhone Valley on the east side of France, you'll be seduced by the Provencal specialties such as truffles, olive oil, walnuts, and chestnuts, which perfectly match the wines of the region. And if you're looking for a relaxing place in the middle of nature, then Eric and Marie-Pierre, the winemakers at Domaine la Cabotte, have mapped out some trails through their vineyards to take in views of the Dentelles de Montmirail ridge, the Mont Ventoux and to discover the terroir of the Massif d'Uchaux.

Rhone Valley relaxing place and trails through the vineyard

You can't talk about gastronomy without mentioning Burgundy! The region is a must for all food and wine aficionados. If you are in the Cote de Beaune wine region, don't hesitate to visit Domaine Chapelle, situated in the picturesque village of Santenay. Further north, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard will welcome you for a winemaker meal, wine tastings or can put you up in one of their gites.

Wine tasting Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis France

For history buffs, the Loire Valley is the perfect destination, but it's also highly recommended for its cuisine. Stop off in Chinon, and visit the caves dug in the 12th century to extract the stone used to build the fortress above. One of these caves is now home to the cellar of Château de la Bonnelière, who will be delighted to let you taste their latest wines.

Chinon fortress caves visit Loire Valley France

And lastly, for those you are looking for an early taster of the Christmas markets in Alsace, you won't be disappointed by the numerous local specialties. On the wine route from Eguisheim, one of France's prettiest villages, stop off at Domaine Stentz-Buecher in Wettolsheim, where Céline and Stéphane, the owners, will be sure to let you know of all the best local events happening and of course to taste their wines!

For all of the proposed activities or if you would like to visit one of our partner vineyards, don't forget to contact them in advance to make an appointment and to check on opening times.

 

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Last minute Christmas gifts for wine lovers


Just one week left to go for your Christmas presents! If you haven't yet finished your Christmas gift shopping, not to worry. You can order the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience up to 12:30 on the 20th December depending on the delivery destination, or for the real last minute Christmas shoppers, you have until 12:30 on the 24th December to receive a copy of the personalised certificate by email. Here are a few ideas of original Christmas presents for wine enthusiasts.

More information on the Christmas delivery date limits

Turn you loved ones into an apprentice winemaker for a winemaking year! A very original Christmas gift that sees them adopted their own vines in a French organic vineyard. They'll follow all the key stages in making their wine from the work in the vineyard and cellar up to choosing the name for their personalised bottles of wine.

And to complete you Christmas gift, you can also include one of the Wine Experience Days at the winery. The Discovery Experience Day will allow them to get behind the scenes and learn about caring for the vines to bring the grapes to optimum maturity. The Harvest Experience Day will see them get involved in picking the grapes and following their path into the fermentation tanks. Or why not include a Vinification Experience Day to learn more about the work in the cellar and blending the wines.

Each Experience Day is valid for two people and lasts a whole day. You'll spend the day with the winemakers, get involved in one or more practical tasks, taste the estate's wines and share a meal of other local delicacies.

All of our partner vineyards are organically certified and the winemakers have been chosen for the passion that they share for their profession. They'll welcome you warmly and let you in behind the scenes to discover what it's really like to be a winemaker.

To have something to open right away in front of the Christmas tree, your recipient will receive a welcome pack containing a sommelier's apron, DropStop, personalised certificate and details regarding their chosen Wine Experience. A truly unique and hand's on experience to learn more about wine.

More information on the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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Original Christmas gifts for wine lovers


The days are getting shorter and the cold is setting in... winter is coming and with it Christmas! There's still a little time to go before the frenetic Christmas present rush begins, but why not get a head start and discover some original Christmas gift ideas?

 

Adopt-a-vine in France. Original Christmas gifts for wine lovers

 

Looking for something more inspiring than the usual good bottle of wine to give your Dad? Why not give him the chance to make his own wine this Christmas! Your father will be transformed into an apprentice winemaker for a year with the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience! Adopt some vines for him, allow him to follow all of the key steps in making his wine, and he'll even be able to personalise the labels on the bottles of his wine that will be produced at the end of his Wine Experience.

Your father-in-law is hyperactive? With his Christmas gift pack, send him off to France for a Harvest Experience Day to pick his grapes and follow their journey into the fermentation tank. He'll learn from the winemaker about the work in the chai, and will end up with his own personalised bottles of wine at the end of his Wine Experience. He'll also get to share the harvesters' meal and taste the wine from the estate. What's more, each Experience Day is valid for two people, so your mother-in-law can make the most of exploring one of France's beautiful wine regions too!

Your sister loves wine but doesn't understand anything about it? The ideal Christmas gift for her is a Wine Experience gift pack including a Discovery Experience Day. She'll roll up her sleeves and get involved in the work carried out in the vineyard to produce the best quality grapes come harvest time. She'll learn all about the fascinating profession of being a winemaker, and will get to taste the wines and enjoy other local delicacies during the winemaker's meal.

 

Rent-a-vine in France this Christmas with the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience gift.

 

Your brother is a fan of all things organic? All of our partner winemakers are organically certified and passionate about the sustainability of their vineyards. He'll discover the challenges or producing organic wine, and will learn about the organic treatments used to care for the vines. An original organic Christmas Gift!

Here are a just few ideas of unusual Christmas gifts for wine enthusiasts. Thanks to the unique and down to earth approach to wine of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, your recipient will appreciate one of the personalised Christmas gift packs.

And to have something to open on Christmas Day in front of the tree, the welcome gift pack includes some goodies such as a wine waiter's apron, a DropStop, a personalised certificate and details of the chosen Wine Experience. Who said that Father Christmas wasn't a wine lover?

More information on the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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Original Christmas Gift Idea for a Wine Lover


With just a few weeks to go, the pressure is mounting to find that original Christmas present idea?

Original Christmas Wine Gift Idea. Adopt-a-vine in France and participate in an authentic Wine Experience

Don't worry - Gourmet Odyssey might have just the Christmas gift for a wine enthusiast that you've been looking for.  Not only is it an original gift experience, but it's also organic!

Adopt some vines and give an unusual wine experience gift.  Your recipient will become the adoptive owner of their plot of organic vines in France, and can also get involved in helping to make their wine at the vineyard, guided by one of our passionate winemakers during one of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience days.

During these hands-on wine courses, each valid for two people, you will discover what it takes to be a winemaker, and what secrets lie behind making a bottle of great wine.  It?s also a great excuse to visit some of France's most famous wine growing regions.

Throughout the Wine Experience, you are kept updated of the key steps in nurturing the vines, the harvest, and the work in the cellar via newsletters.

And at the end of the experience, you get to choose the name of your vintage and receive a bottle of personalised wine for each adopted vine!

So how's that for a Christmas gift that breaks the mould?

Follow this link for more information about the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.

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What to get the person that has everything ?

Adopt a Vine in France and Let Them Follow the Making of Their Own Wine !

From € 159

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