Why we do what we do
We want to taste excellent wine, eat great food and, to balance the budget, stay at cheap but clean, en-suite hotels
Wine tasting and buying
- We select the wine area in which to taste based on its reputation for excellent wine, at both ends of the price spectrum.
- Deciding where to taste is somewhat tricky. In broad terms we are serendipitous, preferring the satisfaction of discovering excellent wine by ourselves, and maybe having it confirmed by the wine critics.
- Where we have been able to identify in advance excellent producers and get our wine trade contacts to arrange a tasting we do so. However no more than 1 or 2 a trip as these events can consume several hours.
- If through research we can identify producers to visit we list them and look out for them when in their village. But so often we cannot locate them. On occasion we will come across their phone numbers and phone ahead to book a tasting.
- But most often we cruise the streets looking for places that look good and sell wine. Over the years we have learned that if the establishment looks like a tip its wines taste like it too. So, well cared for, loved, flowers, shabby in the great French style, are all indicators of good wine.
- We only buy from above average vintages. The aim is to get drinking wine (excellent, value for money at below €10) and occasional bottles of excellent wines that are the top of the producer’s range but usually cost considerably more. Thus we achieve a reasonable average cost for the wine we purchase.
- We taste what is on offer other than the cheap and nasty stuff and the exotics (brandies, sparkling wine, etc.). But, having decided a vintage is no good, we are inclined not to taste further examples if ok and better vintages are on offer.
- We spit out everything except for small sips of the really great stuff. The not so obvious reason is that you are treated seriously by the people who run the tasting and so get offered more of the range and even some unusual stuff.
Restaurant and Hotels
Restaurants are selected first using Guide Michelin. We target to eat at one star or better restaurants. We always have one of the set menus as we consider that this gives the best representation of what the chef can do. As we are not trying to be parsimonious we generally go for the menu gourmand as this has the widest range of tastes. We try to pick the best value for money wines on the wine list. This makes selecting the wine an enjoyable debate.
Hotels are selected to be as close to the restaurant as possible using Guide Michelin and Logis de France. We generally select a two star hotel to meet the budget.
Daily budgets are set by reference to the star rating of the restaurant. We certainly don’t stint on the food or wine. In 2010 these were –
- up to one star in Guide Michelin €200 per day
- two star in Guide Michelin €250 per day
- three star in Guide Michelin €350 per day