The very South of France, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, the Roussillon part in particular, is famous for its traditionnal production of fortified wines.
The most famous ones are the red Banuyls and Maury Vins Doux Naturels (French for Natural Sweet Wines), and the white Muscat de Rivesaltes.
Perhaps a lesser-know sweet dessert wine is the one simply called Rivesaltes, after a town north of Perpignan, quite close to the French border with Spain.
Rivesaltes come as both white and red, and are often aged for a long time under oxydative conditions in large oak vats or even in large glass containers (bonbonnes).
The result are tasty, fruity and spicy wines, sweet but not overly so. The old aged versions can reach extreme levels of concentration and flavor complexity. Some are truly outstanding wines.
For info, Rivesaltes Ambré (as in amber) designates white wines aged for at least about 2 years, while Rivesaltes Tuilé (French for the color of a roof tile) is for aged reds.
They’re great wines, but because they are quite sweet, and fortified (alcohol is added to the wine during the winemaking process), reaching between 15% and 17% alcohol content, they are not light and thirst-quenching drinks.
To enjoy them in summer then, and still get a sense of having a relatively complex drink, there is a very simple cocktail to make, sinply by mixing it with tonic water.
Yes, they call it the RIV’ Tonic Original!
Check out this Video of how to make it:
RIV’ Tonic Ingredients
- 1/2 Rivesaltes Ambré
- 1/2 Idian Tonic Water
- Shaved or Cracked Ice, or Ice Cubes
- 1 Slice of Orange, Lemon or Lime
For how to prepare it, watch the video above.
What Does a RIV’ Tonic Taste like?
It’ll essentialy taste like the kind of Rivesaltes wine you’ve used, diluted, made more refreshing and augmented by the slightly herbal and zesty Idian Tonic’s taste.
I found that the tonic water actually respects the taste of the Rivesaltes pretty well so you can still taste the wine.
A typical Rivesaltes wines throughs aromas and flavors of honey, caramel, dates and sweet spices that come through lively in this cocktail.
A fun and tasty idea to enjoy your Southern French fortified wine in summer!
PS: Below is a wine book by Oz Clark about the South of France’s wines is you’re curious, or check out all my reviews of Languedoc-Roussillon wines.