Wine Tasting Vacations in France
When it comes to food and drink, France is particularly known for its cheeses and wines. They’re two great tastes that go great together! Touring the best French wine regions and sampling the wines where they are produced represents one of the best ways to spend your vacation in France.
Wine Tasting Vacations
What should you know before booking a wine tasting vacation?
Small vineyards may only accept visitors based on reservations. Calling several days in advance is a good idea. On the other hand, larger vineyards and their cellars are open for the public and have standard opening hours.
Generally a small fee is charged to taste the wine when you visit a vineyard. That’s standard at the larger establishments, while smaller ones won’t charge anything but expect you to buy a bottle of wine.
When tasting, hold the glass by the stem, as you don’t want your body heat to influence the wine’s properties.
There is no need to drink the wine to fully appreciate it. It’s customary to save the drink for the last sample as it’s always from the winery’s best wine. If you are visiting a “true” cellar you can spit on the floor, otherwise you’ll find a bucket (un crachoir) for you to spit into.
What prices to expect ?
First, you need to realize that wine tasting tours are considered luxury vacations. Therefore, prices will be as such. Generally speaking, for a week touring one of the wine regions expect to pay between €850 and €1000 per person. The package includes the accommodation, all the meals, day trips and wine tasting activities.
If you are booking your wine tasting vacation directly from the US, the transportation price will be also added to the package. Expect to pay about US$5,000 per person for 5 nights accommodation in a chateaux, luxury dinners and wine tasting.
If you are on a budget, you can always visit the vineyards and cellars on your own and pay a small fee to taste the wines. Also, there are some travel agencies which offer walking guided tours. You are given a booklet with all the instructions and you can enjoy the tour at your own pace. Prices are available on the agencies’ websites (generally on request).
A very important and well known region for its quality wines is Bordeaux. While there, rent a car and head north. Try to plan to visit Bordeaux at the end of June as the city is home to wine festival.
French Wine and Wineries
Initially wine was produced by monks as a celebratory drink during Mass. As trade developed, vineyards moved closer to port cities.
Currently there are several major wine regions in France, including: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Loire region and the Rhone. The styles of wines originating in France are: red, rosé, white, sparkling (Champagne) and fortified.
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Note: The author believes in drinking responsibly.