France is the spiritual home of wine making, and a visit to the capital of Paris would not be complete without sampling some of the country’s most famous export.
Although there are no commercial vineyards within the bustling metropolis, the so-called city of romance is an ideal place to learn about French viticulture and try some premium vintages as part of a Paris wine tasting, which is often accompanied by divine food pairings. While many Paris wine cellars and merchants have open doors that welcome visitors to share their knowledge of French wine, there are also countless dedicated wine tours led by professional guides to explain the wine’s characteristics at handpicked venues around the city.
Many of these tours incorporate Paris wine tasting as part of an experience that also explores another facet of the beautiful city. For instance, traditional wine cellar tastings are accompanied by walking tours, museum tours and gastronomic tours that come with opportunities to taste excellent wines. One of the more relaxing ways to discover both the city and some of France’s finest wines, which include exquisite red blends from Bordeaux, crisp Chardonnay from Burgundy and a companion for any celebration in Champagne, is as part of a boat tour drifting down the Seine.
Visitors can dine aboard a barge, known as peniche, and enjoy fine wine pairings as they float idly down the river while a catalogue of some of the world’s most famous monuments – including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre museum and Grand Palais – pass by.
The Caves of Louvre, which are nestled amongst the eponymous museum that houses the enigmatic Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, is also a popular place for Paris wine tasting experiences. Built in the 18th century by the king’s sommelier Trudon, the caves once housed wines that were served at the Court of the King of France and were connected to the Louvre by a tunnel to avoid thieves and beggars on the streets outside. Visitors to the caves can enjoy private tastings steeped in the capital’s history, architecture and regal heritage.
The Dilettantes Cave a Champagne is another wine storing cavern, except this one is dedicated to serving France’s most famous sparkling wine. Created by a selection of 25 viticulturalists from the four great terroirs of the Champagne region, Dilettantes offers over 130 different Champagne varieties from producers ranging from large family houses to small boutique estates.
To experience Paris wine tasting in style, there are few more sophisticated places on earth to sample French wines than the recently renovated wine cellar at the exclusive five-star hotel Plaza Athenee. As part of an elaborate tasting, sommeliers will share the cellar’s secrets and a wine list of over 35,000 bottles and 1,700 references such as Chateau Margaux, Montrachet and Chateau Cheval Blanc in an atmosphere so sophisticated it hurts.
Visiting wine cellars may be an increasingly popular way to enjoy Paris but, ironically, it was a wine tasting in the city that almost led to the reputation of French wines being lost. Known as the ‘Judgement of Paris’, the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 was organised as an event where French judges carried out two blind tasting comparisons between red and white wines from France and California. To the surprise of the wine making world, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from the United States trounced their French rivals in every category – much to the disgust of British organiser Steven Spurrier who was trying to promote sales of French wine!
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