By gerard oosterman
We were there at the tail end of summer and the wine vintage was in full swing. The region of the Languedoc is one of the largest red wine growing areas in the world. Apart from those working in shops or businesses, everyone else, during vintage, all and sundry are into grape harvesting and wine making. No matter where we went or where we stopped, the streets and kerbs were red with the flow of must and wine. We were stepping in it.
The local farmers were immediately selling the freshly made wine and for less than the cost of a bottle of milk. The larger the quantity, the cheaper the price was. We ended buying the red wine in a five litre plastic container for which one had to pay a deposit. The drinking of those five litres had to be done fairly quickly because as air entered the container, the wine would oxidize and spoil rapidly. We would soon adhere to the routine of buying fresh trout with stick bread from the local boulangerie, fry up garlic in some very excellent olive oil, barbeque the trout and with the dipping of the bread into the oil and garlic mixture eat the trout washed down with copious quantities of the cheap wine.
The Languedoc area is the largest wine producing area in the world and this region alone produces more wine than the entire United States. During its frenzied vintage height, while we were there, our shoes and car tyres were red from the flooded roadside kerbs and guttering with the spoils of the wine making. I don’t know how, but during the couple of weeks of trout and red wine consumption I found enough sobriety reading a book found on the shelves in the dining room. It was George Perec’s; ‘Life, A User’s manual’. A great story that involves a large jigsaw puzzle with people and their lives living in apartments forming the pieces of the jigsaw coming together bit by bit, a marvellous story