Your wine “refill” in Nice, France
Did you know that Roman soldiers were paid a ration of weak wine called Posca to keep them healthy? Here is my pledge to good health.
Simplify your life while you are here in France. There are no brand names, artistic labels, or fancy bottles, and definitely no surgeon general warnings. You have a choice of maybe a half dozen regional wines in large vats, and you don’t need a magnifying glass to read the name or alcohol content; hand written on placards that you can to read from ten feet away.
For me in France, I have regular haunts for shopping for wine, and these three “Caves” are just steps away on the bus.
Caves Caprioglio 16, rue de la Prefecture – (Old Town Nice) Wine & Spirits
This was my first introduction to bulk wine vats many years ago. A truly authentic place with the same family at the spicket since 1902. Here is local Vin de Pays, all the way to the great French vineyards of quality appellation Grand-Cru.
Drink up that water bottle (1-2 liters, not the little ones) and you have your container to fill with French wine. They have a plastic bottle you can purchase if you don’t have one.
I have a special fondness for this place as it was the first establishment where I saw the wine being dispensed into your own bottle. It’s old and nostalgic, with a feeling of community. A bit dark, as if the only light is coming from the huge front door, but well worth a visit.
La Belle Cave 8 rue Bavastro, Nice (near the port) Wine and pâtés and tapenades
My usual picnic wine is at La Belle Cave. They have some that are $500+ and unique patés. A lovely neighborhood shop with exceptional wine.
“Rosé, s’il vous plaît…”
The rosé is in tall stainless steel vats, reminiscent of olive oil tanks. It’s about 40 centimes a bottle more, but well worth it.
Cave de la Tour 3, rue de la Tour (Old Town) Lunch & wine
A truly enjoyable place where the locals and professionals come to eat, but get there early like the locals do, just before 12 noon, or the Plat du Jour will be gone. Just look for the wine barrels, out in front, made into lunch tables. This cave has regional wines from the Alpes Maritimes, Provence, and Grands Vins de France. Checkout the back room…it’s loaded with apéritifs and digestifs. The cook makes authentic Niçoise specialties for lunch at very reasonable prices.
What we are drinking…
I admit for a few times it’s fun to get the rosé from the vats. However, there are some exceptional wines here in the South of France. Rosé is tasty in spring time, and excellent on hot summer days.
Good rosé wine in France is around €9-16 euros. A refreshing one comes from the Château de Berne in Provence where they have been making wine for 3 centuries; since Roman times, vines have grown on this estate. My other favorite from Provence is Sainte Béatrice.
The country drinks 30% rosé, 50% red, and 20% white. Just think what goes with pastel pink—white meat, seafood, and anything Mediterranean, even pizza.
While writing this post, I think back to fun times that made me reflect on family, and friends: drinking and being carefree, laughing and enjoying life, especially, good friends that live in Lockport, NY…The Cuzzacrea’s—sort of like family to me. Steve Cuzzacrea’s homemade wine was legendary.
Rosé wine, for me is picnic wine, and if I step out onto my balcony or patio, I am having a picnic. Let’s call rosé… “Nice-tea,” Get it?
Rosé is festive, for the young and old, and is here to stay.
Stop and smell the rosé 🙂