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Learning the Basics of Bordeaux

Learning the Basics of Bordeaux

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My first impression of Bordeaux took shape on the flight from Amsterdam. I was struggling to lift my much-too-heavy carryon into the overhead compartment when a hand reached over and lifted it for me. I turned to face a dignified older gentleman, who smiled and said in a thick French accent, “Welcome to Bordeaux.”

Learning the Basics of Bordeaux (Slideshow)

This kind man went on to ask what I was doing in the region, and upon finding out that I was a journalist writing about the region and its wine, proceeded to draw me a diagram of where his favorite wine shop in St. Emilion is located. “You will go there,” he proclaimed, “and you will taste my friend’s wine.”

That pretty much sums up my entire Bordeaux experience: friendliness and warmth. Also semi-nosiness about my exact plans, amazement at my career as a journalist, and spirited commands of “Hey, you! Come drink this wine!”

Lots of people have asked, “Why Bordeaux? Why not Paris?” Having never been to Paris, I couldn’t speak to that the opportunities I missed there, except to say that Bordeaux is not only amazing in itself but also underappreciated. Bordeaux is best known for its wine, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to the region. An adventure-seeker should appreciate Bordeaux as a mystery, wrapped in a wine tasting, wrapped in an enigma.

Want to go on a vineyard tour? Take an electric bicycle tour in Bergerac, or a horseback ride in St. Emilion. Want to have an amazing country picnic experience and taste some wine? Go to Château Siaurac. Want to make a custom-blended bottle of wine as a souvenir? Check out B-Winemaker. Read on to find out how to have an amazing Bordeaux wine adventure!


When embarking on a Bordeaux wine adventure, make sure you have a working knowledge of the local vintages first! Those looking for a thorough and entertaining education should schedule a class at L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux. This gorgeous building in the historic district of Bordeaux offers classes for both beginner and more experienced sippers. Learn the difference between the left bank and right bank, figure out what you’ll smell during those wine glass swirls, and learn how Bordeaux became, well, Bordeaux. You’ll also want to take a walking tour of the city and take in the beautiful (and very French) architecture, from the iron balconies to the medieval gates and gorgeous riverside views.

Château de Rolland

One wine that you will (hopefully) try while you are visiting L’Ecole du Vin in Bordeaux is Château de Rolland. I know that Americans aren’t much for the sweet wines, but one thing you’ll learn at L’Ecole du Vin is how to properly appreciate and pair these lovely beverages! Notes of honey in this wine make it a perfect pairing for something salty like prosciutto or olives, and it is a lovely aperitif.

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