Wine … oh lovely wine. What would we do without it? How much less would we enjoy our confit de canard and lamb stew and cheeses if we had no wine at the table. I would (and I know many others who would agree with me wholeheartedly) be unhappy at a meal without wine.

For the past several months I have been tasting a lot of wines, first in Germany, in the Pfalz, then in Spain, in Basque Country, then in Paris, and more recently in Catalunya. Today I am in Provence, and had the pleasure of walking along a path that separated Côtes du Rhône fields from Châteauneuf-du-Pape plots. On both sides of me short, old vines hung heavy with grapes nearly ready for harvest. I visited two producers – Domaine de la Janasse and Alain Jaume & Fils – and sampled some great wines, both Côtes du Rhônes and Châteauneuf-du-Papes.

It is always enjoyable to walk through a cellar, smelling the mustiness and feeling the humidity, knowing that wines are breathing and growing all around you. And I always imagine the meals they are waiting to join and think of the people who will enjoy it all.