If you want to know more about wines without paying for an expensive atelier, Caves du Louvre offer a free way to discover french wine using your five senses.
You will find this wine cellar two minutes on foot from the Louvre-Rivoli station. It is not like a huge Spanish bodega storing hundreds of barrels but a small underground space to get to know the world of french wine. Although at the time, a tunnel connected this cellar to the Louvre as the official wine supplier of the Court of the King of France where they transport the wine barrels to the palace. For the free tour, you will be guided by The French Wine Experience – Explore Wine in Paris app (available on the AppStore and Google Play). I would suggest to download and read this beforehand since you will be busy interacting with the various rooms dedicated to the senses.
- The Terroirs Room
Dedicated to the sense of touch, you can feel the different soil used to grow grapes, the origin of wine. From fine soil to gravel, it shows you the different regions in France which cultivate grapes on these types of soil. Just make sure to wipe the dust off your hands after.
- The Aromas Room
My favourite room, this space will stimulate your olfactory sense. Plenty of wood corks are filled with the different aromas you can smell in wine. Try if you can guess all the aromas right by placing the corks to the corresponding labels. I was surprised to learn that certain wines give the aroma of game! (as in wild mammals or birds hunted for sport or food) and discovered that I love the smell of honeysuckle. Now if I can find a perfume smelling of honeysuckle…
- The Winemaking Lab
Unfortunately you won’t be making any wines here (although you can, if you pay for a winemaking workshop). But this room is dedicated to awaken your tastebuds. Try if you can name the primary types of taste: salty, sweet, bitter, acidic or umami. And a tip, you can keep coming back to sip the sweet receptacle in case you cannot get the bitter taste off from your tastebuds. And trust me, you will have to.
- The Labels Room
At first glance you will surely guess that this room is dedicated to sight. The colorful honeycomb-like wall shows the different colors of wine which is supposed to indicate its age and quality.
- The Bottling Room
Listen to the pop of the cork, the clink of the glasses and the pssshhh from the soft murmur of Champagne bubbles. For those who have paid for a winemaking workshop, you will get to manually cork your bottle and seal it with wax.
Finally there’s the tasting bar, where you can drink different wines from different regions of France while a sommelier explains the story behind them. If you would like a degustation of three wines you would have to pay €19. Also, if you prefer a guided tour than reading off from their app and going at your own pace, you can book their classic package which includes the guide and a degustation of 3 wines. It isn’t a huge cellar so you might find yourself rubbing elbows (literally) with the people from the guided tours. But then again, it’s a way to hear a tour guide without actually paying for it! lol. Although beware, they might call you out if they realise you’re not part of the group, so better be discreet =P. If you like reading and doing the tour at your own pace, you might be better off using the app and keeping your questions to ask the sommelier later if you decide to do the degustation and pay the €19 rather than the €32 with the guided tour.
If you have read the app beforehand and will do the tour by yourself it should only last around 20-30 minutes. The degustation is another story, and who knows how long that can last…
Last tip, it is not suggested to do the winetasting if you have a class afterwards. Santé!