Rhône: The Food and Wine of the Region





The meandering Rhône Valley, one of the longest in France, boasts hugely diverse and deliciously varied styles of food and wine.
 
The valley forms a crossroads between Eastern Europe and the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and northern France, encompassing the heart of Burgundy to the north and Provence to the south.
 
From the north, near to the city of Dijon, down to the southern delta, close to the picturesque town of Avignon, you will not only encounter a marked change in the style of wines, but also the cuisine due to the vast 600kms between the two. Travelling from a land-locked continental climate to a Mediterranean one, the variety between their respective culinary offerings is markedly different.

The abundance of different wines can be quite mind boggling; in the northern Rhône wines are either red, white or rosé, the reds being intense and dark and principally produced from the Syrah grape.

Small villages such as Cornas and Hermitage perch on steep slopes surrounded by vineyards which produce some of France's best value, top quality red wine.

The most famous white is Condrieu made from the apricot scented, pungent grape, Viognier. It's quite expensive but thanks to the quality of this grape you can now try single varietal versions of this wine at much better prices. Here the food is hearty and rich with the local dishes based on meat and offal, lots of different types of sausages, superb cheeses and rich unctuous sauces.

Lyon, with more cafés and Michelin starred restaurants than anywhere else in Europe, is the gastronomic home of France where age old recipes from the region have been refined to create some of the country’s most inspired and revered modern cooking.

Moving further south, the Côtes du Rhône territory produces a great glutting red made principally from the Grenache grape. Perhaps the most famous Rhone red however is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, made from 13 different grape varieties and coming in a bottle that carries the official Papal seal of the town it is named after.

As you might imagine, fresh fruit and vegetables feature strongly in the cuisine of this region in Provence. Tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, superb cheeses and charcuterie are all flavours that are a perfect match for the region’s wine.

When visiting the area, one of the best ways to experience the culinary delights on offer is to snoop around the weekend open air food market, sampling the plethora of tasty morsels and "faire la casse croûte" with a fresh baguette and anything that takes your fancy.
 
To read about region and places of interest in Rhône, click here.  
 
 
 
 
[Main image courtesy of Jean-Luc Colombo

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