My Totally Racous, Très French, Super Wine-Soaked Weekend in the Loire

At an epic gathering of natural winemakers in France’s verdant river valley, I slurped oysters and downed magnums and got a sense of what makes this community, and its wine, so special.

Let’s get one thing straight: I know very little about wine. I drink a lot of it,
sure—the natural stuff more specifically, which as far as I understand it is a loose, poorly defined term that more or less refers to wine made by small producers without the addition of weird chemicals and with the addition of eye-catching labels. But compared with the friends and sommeliers whose oenological ramblings I excitedly nod along to, I often feel like a poseur. I know my way around a wine list, but at the end of the day, I’m a sucker for bottle art. I will always order the hypebeast wine I recognize from Instagram. I use the word funky too often. My wife, Lauren, and I went to a hip wine fair once and bought a poster we had seen in hip wine bars and hip wine stores because we thought it looked cool, not because we knew anything about “Catherine et Pierre Breton,” the French winemakers whose names were scrawled across the bottom. It hangs above our dining room table, and when we’re having our Wine Friends over, I’m always nervous someone will ask me about it, the same way 13-year-old me prayed older kids wouldn’t see my Sex Pistols T-shirt and ask questions about a song that wasn’t on the greatest hits album.

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