French wine is world-renowned, and there are several ways to enjoy it in the heart of Paris. If you're already an aficionado, head directly to a bar à vins (wine bar) or a caviste ("cellar;" a high-end wine shop), many offer informal dégustations (tastings). If you'd like to improve your knowledge of French wines, take un cours de dégustation (a wine tasting class). Last but not least, plan your trip to coincide with a wine festival in the fall.
Great Wine Bars
l'Ecluse Grands Augustins (15 Quai des Grands Augustins; tel. 01/46-33-58-74; www.leclusebaravin.com; 6th arrondissement, Metro: Saint-Michel) There are several L'Ecluse locations throughout the city specializing in Bordeaux wines. With 57 appellations (AOCs) -- including the prestigious château d'Yquem, château Lafite Rothschild and château Angélus -- Bordeaux offers a little something for all tastes.
Le Rubis (10 rue du Marché Saint-Honoré; tel. 01/42-61-03-34; Metro: Tuileries) In this posh neighborhood, the kitschy wine barrels outside and well-worn red banquettes inside let you know you've arrived at the real deal -- an authentic Paris wine bar. Stand at le zinc (bar) with a glass of Beaujolais and a plate of their charcuterie (cold cuts).
Le Baron Rouge (1 rue Théophile Roussel; tel. 01/43-43-14-32; 12th arrondissement, Metro: Ledru-Rollin) The lively Baron Rouge is one of the few remaining places in Paris that will refill your empty bottles with wine from their wooden-barrel casks. (No bottle, no problem; they'll lend you one.)
Here's a comprehensive list of Bars à Vins in Paris: www.parisinfo.com.
The Best Wine Stores
Caves Taillevent (199 rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré; tel. 01/45-61-14-09; www.taillevent.com; 8th arrondissement, Metro: Ternes or Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile) Wine connoisseurs should pay a visit to this renowned shop, said to have one of the finest selections, stored in a temperature-controlled cellar.
Tastings: Saturdays, 10:30am-4:00pm. Taste four wines, based on a theme -- a particular region, type of grape or estate.
La Dernière Goutte (6 rue de Bourbon Le Chateau; tel. 01/43-29-11-62; 6th arrondissement, Metro: Mabillon or St-Germain-des-Prés) This shop (The Last Drop) specializes in estate-bottled, small production, reasonably-priced wines from Languedoc-Roussillon, and other regions that are rarely sold in the states.
Tastings: On Saturday afternoons, owner Juan Sanchez invites his wine and cognac suppliers to offer complimentary tastings.
Caves Augé (116 Blvd Haussmann; tel. 01/45-22-16-97; www.cavesauge.com; 8th arrondissement, Metro: Saint-Augustin) Around since 1850, this is one of the oldest wine shops in Paris. Today, they continue to offer a great selection and feature artisan wines.
Tastings: On occasional Saturdays, 11am-7pm, March-July, (so popular they are often held out in front of the shop).
Some other good wine shops: Fauchon (www.fauchon.com), Nicolas (www.nicolas.com), Lavinia (www.lavinia.fr), and La Bordeauxthèque (www.galerieslafayette.com), the new wine cellar in the renowned Lafayette Gourmet food department.
Here's a useful book: The Best Wine Bars & Shops of Paris: Fifty Charming and Notable Cavistes by Pierrick Jegu.
Top Wine Tasting Classes
Ô Château (tel. 01/44-73-97-80; www.o-chateau.com) French wine tastings for the novice and master classes for connoisseurs are presented in English by trained sommeliers. Learn about terroir and appellation in these fun and informative classes, held in historic wine cellars.
BKWine (tel. 06/80-45-35-70; www.bkwine.com) Learn how to select the proper wine with your meal and all about the various French wine regions and grape varieties. BKWine organizes private tastings in Paris and wine tours (in English).
The History of Wine
Musée du Vin - The Wine Museum (Rue des Eaux, 5 square Charles Dickens; tel. 01/45-25-63-26; www.museeduvinparis.com; 16th arrondissement, Metro: Passy) Located in a medieval wine cellar, this kitschy museum illustrates the history of wine making with dioramas. On display are fascinating artifacts, tools, and an antique bottle collection. There's also a restaurant serving French specialties.
Tastings (in English): Saturdays, 10am-noon & 2:30pm-4:30pm; taste five wines (two whites, three reds) in a two-hour class.
Wonderful Wine Festivals
La Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre - Montmartre's Harvest Festival (www.fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com) Oct. 6-10, 2010
Montmartre's vineyards date from 390 B.C. but the vines that make up the current Clos Montmartre were planted in 1929. Every year, around the first week of October, the harvest is celebrated with a parade and festival that includes wine-tasting booths, food stalls, music and dancing in the streets.
Beaujolais Nouveau (www.beaujolais.com) Nov. 18, 2010
Every year, on the third Thursday of November, the arrival of the new crop of Beaujolais Nouveau wine is celebrated throughout France. In Paris, bars, cafés and restaurants offer special promotions featuring the latest vintage. Look for signs saying: "Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!" or "le nouveau est arrivé!"
Start your wine tasting on the flight over! In the fall, Air France (www.airfrance/us) is serving wines from Burgundy (White & Red: Vin de Pays d'Oc 2009 La Baume). And, if you're lucky enough to fly First Class, try the Pouilly-Fuissé Vers Cras 2005-2007 J. Burrier or the Chateau de Mercey 2005 A. Rodet.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our France Forum.