Food & Wine

The Charente region is certainly most famous for the silky smooth spirit, cognac, but there are lots more local specialities to try. Of course there’s plenty of wine but did you know that there is also a delicious aperitif called Pineau? The fresh oysters of Marennes-Oléron in the Charente Maritime region are much sought after all over France and there are also langoustines, prawns and mussels caught in the sea and rivers and lakes. Other specialities you will find in the region include the black chicken of Barbezieux and delicious goats’ cheeses.

Black Chicken of BarbezieuxMeat

In the East of the Charente region you will find herds of dark caramel coloured cattle grazing amongst buttercups. These are the Limousin cattle of the region, and the steak served in the region will be from these animals. The meat is low in fat but still tender and full of flavour. In the Barbezieux area of the Charente another local speciality is the black chicken of Barbezieux. These chickens have been bred in the region since the Middle Ages and are renowned for their flavour.


Cheese on BreadThe Charente area is particularly well known for its goats’ cheeses. In numerous restaurants and markets you will find goats cheese moulded into the shape of a log from which a portion is sliced.

Mothais sur feuille is often served on a chestnut or plain leaf and is shaped into a disc 4 to 5 inches in diameter and one inch thick, and then there is a sort of ‘camembert’ which is not the real item but has a similar feel to it. Another cheese to try is Jonchee, which is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk and water first flavoured with bay leaves and then rolled in dry marsh rushes. Le tourteau fromagé, is somewhere between a cake and a cheesecake and it is made from cow’s milk. You’ll find it in many places, just look out for its round shape and its blackened top giving it the appearance of having been burned.


Cognac can only be given this name if it is made with grapes grown within a certain area. This includes much of the Charente, the Charente-Maritime and parts of the Deux-Sèvres. this strong classy spirit is the favourite after dinner drink of the Charente region and it could be said to be perfect after-dinner drink. Famous brand names include Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, and Remy Martin. Tours of the various cognac houses can be arranged.


Pineau des Charentes is a superb fortified wine made from adding unfermented grape juice to cognac. After the ageing process, the wine produced is slightly sweet. Occasionally, pineau will be aged for five years or more to ensure an even richer flavourand this may be described as vintage. There are two types of pineau, white which is made with white wine grapes and red which is of course made with red wine grapes


Whilst this region might not be as celebrated as Bordeaux or the Loire, it still produces fine wines.