Sunday, 12 October 2008


There is great excitement in France when the grape harvest happens; not only are the roads full of trailers full of grapes and letterboxes full of catalogues about wine, but suddenly a sign will appear at the supermarket:

La Bernache est ici

Having been told about Bernache by Bengt (the dill munching Viking Preuillacien) last year, I was anxious to try it this year. So when the signs went up at SuperU, I was in like a shot. I may have been there on the first day, but even then about half of their supply had gone. I bought 3 bottles, with the intention of sharing the experiment with Susan when she arrived later in the week.As an experiment, it went quite well: very refreshing, but with a kick greater than 11% would have you believe. Sitting in the garden with a couple of glasses of bernache may well become a once a year feature of life in Preuilly.

As for the details? Bernache is something about which there seems very little information on the interwebby tubes thing, but there are a number of facts which we know to be true:
  • Bernache is semi-fermented wine (about 11% alcohol).
  • Bernache comes in just about every colour from green, through almost clear, to red.
  • It bubbles.
  • The bottle does not have a cork, just the plastic cork cover. There is a hole in this, so don't lay the bottle down.
There are a number of things about Bernache which we suspect to be true:
  • It has added yeast. Either this, or some of the pomace (grape pulp) gets into each bottle. This causes it to continue fermenting, hence the bubbles. There is definitely solids in the bottom of the bottle.
  • It rots your brain. It certainly does affect the stomach. It seems odd that at a time of year when cabbage and beans are the main vegetables the effect should be heightened by a drink, but there you go. (This may qualify as TMI, but it's too late).
  • It goes off really quickly. Otherwise why can't you buy it all year round?
Does anyone know more about bernache? Drop us a line, we would love to know more. Like why this beverage is called 'barnacle' ?


(There is a good post on the Hotel Le Blason blog from Amboise about bernache, in French.)


Autolycus said...

Is it because it leaves you clinging to almost anything for support...?!

Anonymous said...

Glad that you finally tasted the liquid of life. This is what life really is about. Or? In german it´s Schorle but the french word slipped my mind. I mix up with the Parnache which is not quite the same :-)

Susan said...

DMVP (I assume it's you?) Panaché is for old ladies ! :-)

Autolycus – good logical thinking. I'll go with that until something better presents itself.

Katarina said...

I didn't know that the French know it. I assume it's the thing we call in slovak "burciak" and we drink it from end of september to end of october (this drink is widely spread in central europe - czech republik, austria, slovakia). It's the fermented grape juice with plenty of vitamines and there is no way to conserve it. Once it's more fermented and filtered, it becomes wine. I like it very much, thanks for the idea of french name, i'll try to find it here.

Susan said...

Katarina – it sounds like the same thing to me. I'll ask my French-Slovak friend Edith – I expect she will know.

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