Vinauberge perfectly describes the name of this ‘wine inn’ in Poilhes. Situated in a former wine cooperative a few steps from the Canal du Midi, you will find a collection of more than 1,000 wines in stock. They present a large part of the Languedoc region wines, which you can taste on the spot. And as you shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach, there is also a restaurant serving fine bites. To wine or not to wine is not the question here!
It’s clear that Vinauberge is more than just a restaurant. Initially, a private initiative set up by German wine professional Günter Hutter and some associates, the cooperative is a place where wine traders and wine lovers can meet. In 2011, Vinauberge opened the doors of its 400 m2 independent structure in Poilhes’ former cave coopérative. It now hosts an oenotèque, restaurant, tasting room, presentation room, seven apartments for holiday rentals, several terraces, and a beautiful garden. With a special place for the cream and red striped labelled St. Eugène wine, produced by Günter Hutter’s wine estate just a few minutes away.
Being in the darker months of the year, Chéri and I reserved a table inside and will save the terrace for some lighter evenings. We only tested the restaurant at Vinauberge, a surprisingly inviting open space with high ceilings and rustic beams. A cozy bar stood in the middle, surrounded by beautifully presented bottles of wine along the walls. The floor was a faded red-wine colour, which looked very natural in a place like this. And each set table had a little candlelight to enhance the romantic mood. I always get slightly overwhelmed when there is a wide choice of wines. Therefore, I was glad to see the modest-sized wine menu. You can order by glass or by the bottle, which is always a good idea if you want to try more wines. The food menu proposed a range of tapas, separate starters, and main dishes, all prepared on the spot.
Chéri opened the evening with tarte flambée, an Alsatian classic. This ultra-thin kind of pizza, topped off with a cream layer, onions, and lardons, immediately brought us back to the Alsace, where we lived before. As I couldn’t choose between the starters, I first had the crispiest fried prawns in a panko jacket. The second starter: a baby pumpkin filled with divinely melted camembert, served as my main course. Chéri had the faux filet, à point (medium) as he likes his sirloin steak, with seasonal vegetables on the side. For dessert, I couldn’t choose, again, so I went for the café gourmand with little versions of all four desserts. While Chéri savoured his moelleux aux pommes et citron, I enjoyed the same cake, but smaller, a mini baba au rhum, a panna cotta with blueberries and a praline cream. Vinauberge knows how to take good care of you!