S hortly after I moved to Germany for the first time to live with my now husband, he surprised me with a romantic Valentine’s weekend in Paris. Visiting the city of love for an over-commercialized holiday wasn’t exactly on my bucket list if I am totally honest. But, after a memorable long weekend that included an educational evening at Paris’ best wine tasting, Wine Tasting in Paris, I’m so glad he whisked me away. Everything about our long weekend in France was a surprise, so the night before Valentine’s Day, as we walked up to an old cobblestone street in the Latin Quarter, I begged to know where we were going. I peeked in every shop window, curious. Finally, my impatience was rewarded. We turned a sharp corner, and he opened a door into an intimate and cozy tasting room that smelled of fresh baguettes and wine. I knew I was in for a treat, an immersive wine-tasting experience in the heart of Paris, France.
I have always considered myself a lover of wine, but my knowledge of wine was fundamental. That is until I finished the best wine-tasting experience in Paris. I used to walk into a European wine shop and wander around aimlessly, confused by the complicated French names on the bottles. Ganesh, also a lover of wine, chose the perfect tasting in Paris to help demystify French wines. After our educational and boozy night with Thierry, the owner of Wine Tasting in Paris, I now know all the French regions and the types of wine that come from each. This is the best wine-tasting experience in Paris and is excellent for a small group of friends or a romantic date night idea in the City of Love.
Our wine-tasting experience at Wine Tasting in Paris was the best I have ever done. As I update this post years later, this message still holds true. Ganesh and I constantly recall the skills and knowledge we acquired during this tasting. I even one-uped a Canadian wine sommelier as he tried to tell me France was not known for their buttery wines. I rebutted, remembering my time in Paris while trying a lovely buttery Chardonnay from Bourgogne. We can confidently navigate wine menus and stores, always selecting our favorite French wines.
I suggest you bring a notebook if you want to recall all the details. If one thing is sure, Wine Tasting in Paris is more of an educational wine-drinking than a wine tasting. You know, the type of wine tasting where you sip a tiny taste and pour out the rest – yeah, this isn’t that. Be ready to drink full glasses of wine. Thierry ensures the tasting includes loads of educational material and hands-on learning while merging theory and practice for an immersive experience. You’ll want to remember all his valuable information, so be ready with pen and paper, as some details may be fuzzy the following day.
I’m going to leave a lot of the knowledge taught by Thierry to Thierry himself and encourage everyone in Paris to attend this wine tasting. Still, I’ll cover some basics of what we learned and an overview of how to taste wine and the wines we tasted.
Wine Tasting in Paris – The Experience
One can do quite a few wine tastings in Paris, but what made our experience unique was that this tasting was custom created by Thierry himself for wine lovers, those looking to take their wine knowledge to the next level, and even beginners like me. Born in the Bourgogne region, Thierry has been in the wine business for decades. He recently decided to branch out, away from working in the vineyards, to share his passion with the world. His quaint and top-notch business, Wine Tasting in Paris, was born from his love for wine and desire to share the art of French wine with foreigners.
When we turned off the cobblestone street, Theirry welcomed us into a bright, rustic room filled with old wine casks. The tasting room, seated 12, ensured the experience remained intimate and personable yet lively. Everyone was eager to make new friends at the table and bond over a shared love for wine.
To start the wine-tasting experience, Thierry passed around concentrated aromas. These potent vials would help us hone in on smells specific to the wine before we tested our noses and taste buds on actual wine. Accompanying the tasting was a well-constructed and informative visual screen presentation, making things simple and easy to understand. It felt like we were getting first-class treatment from one of the best in the business.
Over the next two hours, we tried six glasses of wine, starting with one glass of Champagne, progressing to two whites, and finishing with three reds. With each glass of wine, we learned how to properly smell, swirl and aerate, and read visual cues to understand the viscosity of each wine. We learned about the history and origin of each wine and the traditional practices and grapes used to produce each bottle. To enhance the educational experience, maps, charts, and other tools were available to reference.
This experience is focused on the wine and tasting it undiluted. That means there wasn’t any food available like cheese or fruit. A few bread baskets were circulating to cleanse the pallet and give us something to line our stomachs. Cheese and charcuterie plates are available at an additional cost. We planned for dinner after the tasting and came on an empty stomach. We got a bit tipsier than anticipated, so make sure you eat something beforehand or order the extra food.
The tasting is for English speakers—his main clientele hail from the US and UK. However, on the night we did our tasting, we met English-speaking couples from Switzerland, California, France, Portugal, and a lone sake producer from Japan.
What Makes French Wine Unique?
France is renowned as one of the world leaders in wine. So, what better location to taste wine than Paris? France is divided into 11 wine-growing regions. Each region produces a unique grape flavor due to its wide range of terroir. If you divided France into quarters, you would get four main weather conditions—hot and dry, hot and wet, cold and dry, and cold and wet. If you were to grow a pinot noir grape in all four regions, the taste of that grape would vary down to the same plot on which it grows.
The complex terroir is why French wine is labeled by region, not grape, which is why purchasing French wine can be confusing. The regulating body of French agriculture, the AOC, has set strict guidelines for the regional production of French wine. Wine producers can stray from AOC guidelines if they choose, but they can not label their wine as per AOC guidelines, though few choose that option, as it is often said that the label is what makes French wine!
Here is an example of a wine we purchased from Thierry’s shop that shows how complicated labels can be. Each word is carefully chosen and means something specific about the wine and region, therefore, the taste of the wine. Thankfully, Thierry can help demystify French labels. Part of what makes this wine tasting in Paris so informative is that you leave with the knowledge to understand and navigate French labels and wine bottles.
How to Taste French Wine
Before a Wine Tasting in Paris, I swirled wine to look cool. I would haphazardly slosh my wine about, humming and hawing. I thought that’s how you did it, but there is an art to tasting the wine that Thierry taught us, and the key is not to swirl your wine right off the bat. With each wine, we were prompted to savor each glass properly. Each glass came with its instructions, but I left with several key takeaways.
The Art of the Swirl
The key to a successful wine tasting is mastering the art of the swirl. Thierry showed us how to use motion from our shoulders to move our entire arm with the glass to create the perfect aerating technique. I was surprised to see how much goes into this seemingly simple motion. Thierry made sure to come around to each of us to make sure we were doing it correctly.
It’s All About the Glass
Another critical aspect is choosing the right glass for the right wine. I have a set of white and red glasses in my house, all very simple and basic representations of red and white glasses. Theirry explained the importance of variety for certain reds and whites. When I have space in a future kitchen, I would love to have variety in my glassware to bring out the best experience for drinking wine.
To properly assess the aroma, you must smell your wine in two stages. First, before you swirl, you need to smell the wine to get the initial aroma. Then, after you swirl, you can smell again to observe how aerating changes the wine. Swirling causes a chemical reaction, and you get an entirely new aroma. Some of the wines we swirled changed from mineral to citrus or earthy to meaty, all with a good swirl.
Wine should be visually assessed in two stages. First, tilt your glass toward the light, without swirling, to assess the color. Beyond your basic examples of red and white wine, Theirry showed us a chart depicting dozens of shades. We used this chat to compare our wines. This hue of the wine can give cues to help assess the potential flavor, body, and age. After you swirl your glass and look for the legs. If they’re slow to drip, you have a thick wine with more viscosity and tannins.
The taste should also be compared before and after your swirl. Simply taste the wine and assess where it lands in your mouth, how long the flavor lingers, and how heavy it feels. This determines acidity and body. Notice how the taste and experience change after your swirl the glass.
Valentines Weekend (2016) Wine Tasting List
After we learned the theory of wine tasting, we got to put our new skills into practice!
When we visited back in 2016, this was the tasting list. However, the wines change regularly, and I am sure that you’re experience will be much different than ours.
- Grande Reserve from Vve Fourny & Fils
- A blend of different vintages, 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir.
The first beverage up was Champagne. I love good bubbly, and Champagne is always a favorite of mine. So, I enjoyed learning about Champagne. My favorite fact about Champagne was that it was created by accident and was once regarded as the result of careless wine-making. During the cold months in France, the fermentation process of wine stopped in the winter. Once the fermentation process started again, it created excess carbonation.
It took a while for Champagne to transition from “mistake wine” to becoming the icon of luxury that it has today. Champagne is a luxury item, as it comes from a specific region in France. Producing authentic Champagne is a time-intensive and complicated process, which involves careful rotation of the bottles, often by hand, and freezing the neck to remove sediment.
Thierry also shared information on how Champagne can be dry or sweet, the different types of grapes that go into the process, and the deciding factor between vintage and nonvintage.
As we learned about Champagne, we shared two bottles between the 11 of us because, according to Thierry, you can’t let Champagne go to waste, so you must finish the bottle. Hey, I wasn’t complaining!
Red and White French Wine
After the Champagne, we moved on to the wine tasting with our whites and reds. We went through a similar process with each wine, learning about its origin, production, and significance of the terroir and grapes used.
Loire Valley White
- Sancerre from Domaine Bizet 2014, 100% Sauvignon Blanc
The Loire Valley is mainly known for its red wines, but we tasted one of its unique whites. The white we tasted was on the dryer side and had mineral and citrus notes.
- Macon, La Roche Vineuse, Merlin 2014, 100% Chardonnay
The Bourgogne White was my favorite white; I even purchased a bottle. This wine was well-balanced and contained a smooth butter taste from malolactic fermentation. When I first tried this wine, I got notes of apples and minerals, but the buttery and vanilla notes came through after a good swirl.
- Santenay Bouchard Ainé 2009. 100% Pinot Noir
- Chateau Charmail 2010 bourgeois
Cote du Rhone Red
- Rasteau, ORTAS prestige 2011, 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre
The three reds we tasted boasted prime examples of the factors that go into the pallet of red wine, tannins, acidity, and bitterness. Most wines tend to find a balance between the three, but we tried a wine that dominated one of each area. During this process, we learned what was involved in gaining these characteristics. My favorite was red from Bordeaux, which had solid tannins and a firmer structure with dark berry flavors.
Book the Best Wine Tasting in Paris
Wine Tasting in Paris is an educational and immersive experience in Paris for wine lovers. Ideal for couples or groups of friends, Thierry was very accommodating, knowledgeable, and could handle any request or group. He lingered at the end for us to purchase wine and chat. All wines were very reasonably priced, under 25 Euro. I was happy with the selection of wine and the knowledge shared by our gracious host. Wine Tasting in Paris is easily the best tasting experience you can book in Paris.
French wine tastings happen on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and some Saturdays. The cost is 69 Euros.
Find out more information or book a tasting A Wine Tasting In Paris.