Before you head to a Paris wine bar, you may want to learn a little something about French wines, and you would not be the only one. Paris is full of wine classes and tastings for visitors and locals alike. Because there are so many, it can be difficult to find the one that is just right for you. I recently tested a few and have selected three of the best to share with you.
La Dernière Goutte is the oldest and most established place I tried. A small, cozy wine shop in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, LDG is famous with expats for its wine tastings, which are held once or sometimes twice a week. LDG’s events are so well regarded that famous French food critic Patricia Wells sponsored a tasting there in December. Why are the events so popular? Because each tasting in sponsored by a wine producer trying to promote its product, all of them are free. This also means that guests are tasting only one wine, rather than learning about the art of wine tasting, but at that price, who’s to argue?
A few weeks later I met up with some friends at Le Foodist. In a storefront on the rue Cardinal Lemoine, doors open to a charming place with exposed stone walls that have been whitewashed for a cheerful welcome. Here the charmingly hysterical sommelier Stéphane Bonnerot gives guests a serious lesson in tasting wine while keeping the room alive with laughter. M. Bonnerot’s lessons focus on one particular grape, and the tastings are of the wines produced from it across the globe. The night I was invited, we tried chardonnays from California, Australia, Italy, France and South Africa. The crowd was fascinated with the variety of styles produced by one little grape.
And then there were the cheeses offered by the founder of Le Foodist, Fred, who has a PhD in chemical engineering and is a trained foodie (he atteneded Alain Ducasse Formation). A Selles-sur-Cher goat cheese still haunts my palate weeks later, while the aged Comté made me rethink my opinion of this rather simple mountain cheese. A professional kitchen has been installed downstairs for holding entertaining cooking classes, and Le Foodist also offers dinners parties during which Fred shares the history behind the French cuisine on your plate.