One of my favourite classes here at Les Roches has to be, hands down, Principles of Bar and Beverage with our teacher Mr Milon, who hails from France a country renowned for its wines, champagne and cognac. Apart from learning about the process of making different wines, such as harvesting, distillation and ageing, we have also learnt about correct storage and how to pair different beverages with food. For example, champagne can be served throughout a meal, and the heavier the food, the heavier and more robust the wine should be.
Wine is a complex subject and I don’t plan on becoming a sommelier any time too soon, but once you are equipped with this extremely basic knowledge, you should head off and make yourself a dinner reservation at the À La Carte restaurant on campus known to us as ‘Tacot’. It is the only restaurant on campus where you need to make a reservation (note that it is always fully booked a week in advance!) Here they have a selection of aperitifs, wines and champagnes that you can choose (and pay extra for!), to go with your dinner.
Vinea, the annual wine festival recently took place in Sierre. All the wine producers from the Valais region come flocking to it, blocking off the entire main road in the town. Here they each set up a stall, where they display their goods – everything is available to try! It’s perfect for Les Roches students, giving us an opportunity to test our wine knowledge and get involved in local events. As a student it is a bargain since you purchase the wine glass you use for tasting, either 30 CHF on Saturday or 20 CHF on Sunday, and you can taste to your heart’s content. Before you start jumping to conclusions, it was an extremely educational experience and I learnt more about which types of wines I do and don’t enjoy. The wine, Malvoisie, is hands down my favourite with a complex bouquet of honey, floral notes and cooked fruits and is sweet on the palate.
It is hard to look at a wine bottle and imagine the laborious process that goes on behind the production scenes, the livelihoods that are involved year round, and the role of climate. Wines should be given their due, enjoyed and respected. It is definitely an art form which many more countries are trying to master. In fact, a recent article on the BBC News highlighted these difficulties for new wine producing countries. But hats off to them for trying!