Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Word Of The Week


This time of year, as the harvest winds down, we start to see what's called bernache in the markets. It's sold in a bottle with a plastic cap that has a hole in it. It's also available at local outdoor festivals, where it's poured at makeshift bars.

I'm not sure of the origin of the word. My dictionary's definition of bernache is a North American migratory water bird with no mention of wine. It may be a local word, but I don't know.

I do know that bernache is the result of the first fermentation of white grapes. In fact, it's still fermenting, which is why there's a hole in the bottle cap. It's very fizzy, very cloudy, very sweet, and has a reputation for giving you a big headache. I think drinking bernache must be a kind of celebratory thing. You know, the harvest is over, the wine's in the vat fermenting, life is good.

Bernache comes out in our region right about now through the end of October. Then, in November, the nouveau or primeur wine comes out. You've probably heard of Beaujolais Nouveau, but I think just about every wine region in France does a nouveau bottling. Here, it's called Touraine Primeur. Can't wait !

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I forgot to mention : yesterday, when Roseline, a.k.a. the Bread Lady, came by, she drove right by our house without stopping. Then she stopped down the road, put the truck in reverse and came back. She was obviously embarrassed. We're the only customers up in our hamlet, so to drive up and then leave without stopping is strange.

It turns out that she told Ken that she had been drinking bernache that morning and her head wasn't very clear, and the wine wasn't even very good. Mind you, this was around 11:00 am. We got our bread and she took off down the road.


  1. I've never seen them offering that here. Maybe because most of the wine produced in the area is red?

    I've finally posted your requested quince liqueur recipe. Sorry it took so long!

  2. Ha, that's a really funny story about the post lady!

    And when I was down South for work, all of the wine shops were advertising for "la bourette" (sp?) which sounds really similar to bernache.

  3. What, you haven't noticed the feathers in your bernache?

    John H.

  4. Here's the deal. You've been "tagged," as the Internet people are calling it, and must post Seven Random and Little-Known Facts About Yourself. Then you're supposed to challenge a couple others to do the same.

    Bon courage.

  5. loulou, thanks ! I'm looking forward to trying it.

    sam, I think you might be right. I read an article where they said that in Haut Poitou, bernache is also known as vin bourru, which is very close to bourette.

    john, I was wondering what that peculiar texture was...

    bill, merci. I shall endeavor to do my most ut.

  6. Bernache effects sound like me after too many Pastis 51 s


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