Fancy an amuse bouche of French life this summer? So Frenchy So Chic (SFSC), the annual festival dedicated to the culture and flavours of France, returns in January, bringing French music, food, fashion, fine wine and more to Werribee Park in Melbourne and Sydney’s Centennial Park.
This year’s line-up of visiting French acts includes Malo’s, Laure Birard psych rockers La Femme, and Kill the Pain, a project by Australia’s Phoebe Killdeer and French singer Melanie Pain, who met while performing with hit cover band Nouvelle Vague. Snacks and bevs come courtesy of some of Melbourne and Sydney’s best-known French restaurants, fromageries and food trucks (with oysters, ratatouille, croque monsieurs, crepes, macarons and more on the menu), alongside a selection of cocktails; wines; and champagne by Lanson, one of the oldest and most esteemed champagne houses.
But there’s more to do at SFSC beyond dancing, eating and drinking. This year, festivalgoers can join a series of Francophile workshops on topics such as the language, crafts, boules and even one of the country’s best exports: wine.
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Wine enthusiasts and newbies keen to learn more can join a wine workshop led by Pierre Stock, former sommelier at Melbourne institution France-Soir. Stock has worked in Michelin-starred French restaurants (including the famous Paul Bocuse in Lyon) and at Vue de Monde in Melbourne, and led the France-Soir wine program – curating an extensive 40-page wine list – for over 10 years. He now runs his own wine distribution and personal sommelier business, PS Wine Selections, where he helps you find the best bottles to suit your tastes.
“The workshop is very entry-level, for beginners,” Stock says. “It’s a blind masterclass on how to evaluate wine. We’ll go through three steps: what you see, what you smell and what you taste, with notes and an aromatic wheel for guidance. I want people to have fun and come in and discover something that makes them say, ‘I never looked at wine that way’. It doesn’t have to be too serious and professional.”
The class will focus on classic French grapes and familiar styles that even wine novices are likely to have encountered before.
“We want to stay with a grape that you know, that you’ve drunk before, that you’ll be able to discover yourself,” Stock said. “We’ll talk about what to look for and the usual notes, then when you do it yourself, you can be proud of recognising a chardonnay or pinot noir, chablis, cotes du Rhône, and so on.”
Stock intends for the SFSC workshop to be a casual, stand-up affair of 30 minutes rather than a formal class, to keep up the festival energy. All the workshop wines will come from PS Wine Selections, and attendees can place an order on the day for their favourite bottles to be delivered after the festival.
“I find people often don’t drink French wine because they don’t know where to start,” Stock said. “They stick to what they know. I would love to be the person to make them discover French wine and help them find something similar to non-French wines they are already drinking.”
Also included with your festival ticket is a 30-minute French language masterclass; a hands-on ceramics-making studio experience; A flower crown making workshop; and lessons in the French lawn-bowls game petanque, culminating in a tournament with the chance to win prizes.
There are also fun activities for kids scheduled throughout the day, such as miming, magic, arts and crafts, and face-painting, plus free entry for under-12s.
Broadsheet is a proud media partner of So Frenchy So Chic in 2024, taking place on January 14 in Melbourne and on January 20 in Sydney. Tickets are available now.