2011 TRAVEL STUDY GUIDE
Learning French, Living the Adventure
Your guide to studying the French language, arts, and cuisine
© O Chateau
HOW TO CHOOSE A PROGRAM
Choosing a Wine Program
Wine is poetry in a bottle, it’s said, and there is no better place to study its rhyme and reason than in France. Whether in English or in French, for beginners or for aspiring sommeliers, wonderful wine courses are available in Paris and on-site in wine-producing regions throughout the country.
O Chateau (see listing)
Ever since he founded O Chateau in 2004, young sommelier Olivier Magny has been conducting English-language wine tastings in Paris that are relaxed, informative and downright fun. An energetic and engaging connoisseur, Magny offers an array of courses, from an Introductory Tasting (three wines, one hour) to all-day trips to the Champagne region (8 am–7:30 pm, three visits, lunch included).
© O Chateau
In Paris, the two-hour Tour de France of Wine includes five regional wines and one champagne, while the two-hour Grands Crus Tasting offers six fine wines. Two sessions concentrate on food/wine pairings—the Wine and Cheese Lunch (five wines, cheeses, one and a half hours) and the Wine Tasting Dinner (five wines, three-course dinner, two hours). During the tastings, sommeliers discuss grape varieties, wine regions, label deciphering and more—Magny and his team are adept not only at demystifying wine but also at making the experience a highlight of any Paris visit.
O Chateau also hosts a champagne-tasting cruise on the Seine, in a private salon on a regular river cruise boat. As tasters enjoy riverside views of the city, a sommelier serves and discusses three different champagnes—usually a demi-sec, a brut and a rosé from boutique wineries—answering questions about champagne’s history, fabrication and varied styles while commenting on the passing landmarks. The hour-long cruises depart from near the Eiffel Tower at 6 pm—the perfect aperitif for a magical evening in Paris. €30–€180.
52 rue de l’Arbre Sec, 1st, 01.44.73.97.80. www.o-chateau.com
L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux (see listing)
Bordeaux is not only the hub of one of the world’s great wine regions, it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in France, so wine-tasting classes at L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux are a double delight. The school, run by the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB), a private association of winegrowers and merchants, is located right in the city center, close to the Grand Théâtre. Intensive courses are divided by level: A two-day introductory Technical course is devoted to the basics, from soil qualities to choosing the best wine glasses, including two lunches in Bordeaux restaurants and a tasting dinner at a vineyard. The two-day mid-level Practical course includes two Bordeaux restaurant lunches. The three-day Grands Crus course heads out to the Médoc and Saint Emilion for vineyard tours, tastings and three lunches, at some of the region’s great vineyards. The courses can be combined into four-day or seven-day programs for a wine-intensive week.
© Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux
In 2011, English-language Technical and Practical sessions are scheduled for May and October, and a Grands Crus session for May only. (For courses in French see website.) Shorter, less intensive classes are also available in the summer. And for days when you’re just touring town, the CIVB also has a beautiful wine bar with stained glass windows, staffed by young professional sommeliers, offering an extensive list of Bordeaux wines by the glass, at extremely reasonable prices. Intensive courses €335–€1092.
3 cours du XXX Juillet, Bordeaux, 05.56.00.22.85. www.bordeaux.com/Ecole-Du-Vin