Bonjour! Today is day 3 of our microbiology and culture of cheese and wine program in France and so far I have confidently learned how to say “je ne parle pas Francais.” For those of you like me that don’t speak French, that means…I don’t speak French! This phrase has come in handy many times as we have explored the wonderful area of our host town of Cluny France which has proven to be more beautiful and quaint than I could have ever imagined. So far we have learned about the rich history of the Abbey of Cluny which, until the creation St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, was the largest monastery in the world. The monks who inhabited the Abbey were critical in the formation of the surrounding town and consequently the production of wine. With the monks came the ability to write and allow for the record of wine making practices, its refinement, and ultimately the wine’s prestige.
When not exploring the town, my classmates and I have enjoyed our in depth lectures with Dr. Haggblom about the tedious production of wine including vineyards, wine production, and especially the microbiology behind it all. For anyone that has ever been curious, the definition of a dry wine is one in which the sugars of the grape juice have been primarily converted into ethanol! This is why a dry wine is more bitter tasting and not sweet. Another other pivotal lesson of wine making we have learned is terrior. This term refers to the climate grapes are grown, the soil content, and the skill of the wine maker, all which ultimately lead to either a delicious finished product or a less than favorable one. Consequently, the terrior is one reason why a Bordeaux wine is much more coveted than wines from other regions.
Today we ventured to the fantastic and breathtaking wine country, specifically the town of Pouilly-Fouissé, and also visited Domaine Perraud winery to talk about wine production. Her we saw how grapes were harvested, crushed, fermented, aged and were even given the opportunity to taste wine directly from aging barrels. Next we visited Lycée Agricole de Davayé, an agricultural high school where students come to learn about how to manage a vineyard and produce wine.
This trip so far has truly taught me more about wine and cheese than I could have imagined and I’m happy to be experiencing it with my group of students who are all so kind, excited to see France, learn about its culture, and learn everything with me.