Wine tasting in France

  • Food & drink
  • France
  • 8 min read
Wine tasting in France

Find your new favourite drink in some of the best wine regions in France. Book your wine tasting holiday with LeShuttle today.

Wine tasting in France

Sampling good wine is an activity synonymous with French culture. France is known to have some of Europe’s best vineyards, making it a popular destination for wine aficionados across the world. But you don’t need to be an expert to get involved in tastings. Learning about the different regions, famous wines and wine estates is all part of the fun!

Whether you want to incorporate a little wine tasting into your holiday or make it the sole focus of your trip, booking with LeShuttle means you’ll be able to try and taste to your heart’s content.  

Find out more about French wine

For centuries French wine has shown itself to be both innovative and consistently good quality. Part of what makes French wine different is that each wine is particular to the region where they are produced. The soil, terroir, and climate, plus the care and attention the winemakers put into bringing out different nuances are all hugely important. This means that before heading to a vineyard, or on your first wine tasting tour it's important to be aware of AOCs - that is, appellation d'origine contrôlée (controlled designation of origin).

When it comes to the tasting itself, each winery will have a sommelier on hand to tell you about the way the wine is made, and what to look for when you taste it. But we've got a few top tips to help you get the most from your experience:

  • Swirl the wine in your glass; the longer it clings to the side of the glass, the higher its alcohol content.
  • A short, sharp sniff will give you an indication of its intensity; take a sip and suck in a little air to power up the flavours of the wine.
  • Close your eyes to concentrate on the different tastes; notice the difference between what you taste at the back of your tongue compared to the tip.
  • You can swallow the wine you taste, but professionals will spit it into the bucket provided. 

Any drivers in the group should make sure to just taste and spit. You should also make sure to drink some water and leave a good hour before getting back on the road. 

Planning your wine tasting holiday in France

From LeShuttle's terminal in Calais, you can get to some of the country's best wineries and châteaux in a matter of hours. 

Where you head next will depend on what kind of wine-tasting experience you’re looking for. If you just want a day trip from Calais, you should head to the Champagne region, just 2 and a half hours away from our terminal. If you’re planning a full-scale tasting holiday, spanning several regions in France, spread your trip across several days. This will give you as much time as possible to experience the best wines in each place. 

When planning your trip, keep in mind that many châteaux are closed on particular days (Sundays are common closure days) so check ahead to ensure you're not disappointed.

Wine tasting tour highlights

With 17 different regions producing everything from Champagne to Burgundies, you’ll need to be selective when it comes to choosing which regions you want to visit first. We’ve outlined some of our favourite wine tasting tours and regions below.

Wine tasting in Paris

According to Audrey Hepburn, ‘Paris is always a good idea’, and when it comes to starting your wine tasting holiday, we couldn’t agree more! Just a 3-hour drive from Calais, Paris is filled with opportunities to try different wine tasting tours and experiences.

If you want to combine your tasting experience with sightseeing opportunities, book a tasting in an 18th-century wine cellar. Located metres from the Louvre museum, Les Caves du Louvre was famously used by King Louis XV. As well as offering you excellent wine, during your session, your sommelier will also talk you through the wine-making process. 

There’s also the option to upgrade your tasting experience and receive a souvenir bottle of wine. Whether you leave having found a new favourite wine or wiser about the process, you’ll always have something to remember ‘that night’ in Paris by. 

Group of friends pouring a glass of wine on a Paris street

Wine tours & tastings in Saint-Emilion

Known as one of the most prestigious wine areas in the world, Saint-Emilion is visited by millions of wine enthusiasts every year. Over an 8-hour drive from Calais via the A28 and A10, the journey is well worth it because of the variety of wineries available for you to visit. 

Saint-Emilion is known for producing prestigious red wines, particularly Merlot. As the oldest wine-producing appellation in Bordeaux, there are numerous family-run wineries which you can combine with visits to larger châteaux. For context, châteaux are wine estates where wine never leaves the property during the ageing, fermentation or bottling process. All the wineries in Saint-Emilion are known for having beautiful properties, tours, as well as a delicious selection of wine. 

Exploring the Route des Grands Crus

The ‘wine route’ as it’s known in English takes in the most prestigious part of Burgundy’s vineyards, running through Dijon, Beaune and then onto Santenay. 

Marked by brown signs, the route itself was created in 1937 and runs for 60 km through 37 villages. It is recommended that you allow at least 2 days to fully enjoy the route and all the vineyards on offer. 

With the Côte de Nuit in the north and Côte de Beaune in the south, the Route des Grande Crus travels through the heartland of Burgundy. Many of the region’s climats (specific vineyards) received UNESCO world heritage status in 2015. 

Because of the soil composition, the vines along the Route des Grands Crus mostly grow Pinot Noir grapes in the north and Chardonnay in the South. Because of this, you’ll encounter a full range of the very best wines during your drive. In the north, Côte de Nuits wines are exclusively red and known to have intense fruit flavours. As you head towards the south, you’ll be looking at drier, fruitier white wines which are equally as delicious as their red counterparts. 

This stretch of Burgundy is known as the Champs-Elysées of the wine world and is not to be missed!

Route des Grands Crus sign with clear blue sky and rolling hills in the background

Champagne tasting

Dom Perignon’s cry ‘Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!’ was certainly not unfounded. Any wine tasting trip should include a stop in the Champagne region so you can experience the same celestial thrill!

As the closest region to Calais, you can leave the terminal and be in the Champagne district in less than 3-hours. The little town of Epernay is at the centre of the region, and home to the major Champagne names including Veuve Clicquot, Moet et Chandon, and the aforementioned Dom Perignon. From Calais, head southeast along the A26 until you reach Reims. From here, Epernay is just a further 30-minute drive along the Voie de la Liberté.

Try the crisp whites of the Loire Valley

With nearly 90 areas of AOC, the Loire Valley is France's second-largest wine region after Champagne and produces almost as much sparkling wine. Historically the wines of the Loire have long been some of the most coveted, and it remains one of the world's most esteemed wine-growing regions.

If you’re particularly partial to white wine, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc this is the perfect region for you to try a wine tasting experience in. Head southwest to Le Mans via the A28, which is a 4-hour drive from Calais, and you’ll be well on your way.

Wine tasting in the Southern Rhône

Thanks to its Mediterranean climate, long summers and mild winters the wines produced in Southern Rhône are excellent. Most wines produced in this region are made from blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grapes and vary in style, quality and price. 

If you’re planning a visit to Southern Rhône, you should visit the Côtes du Rhône appellation, which is responsible for around two-thirds of all wine produced in the Rhône Valley. The red wine made there mostly uses Gigondas grapes and is known for being sweet, spicy and dangerously easy to drink!

Happy friends having fun drinking wine at winery vineyard

Discover the rich clarets of the Bordeaux region

The largest wine-producing region in France, Bordeaux is something of a household name, at least in terms of good wine. Its success is largely due to the calcium-rich limestone ground base and gravelly soil. There are over 8,000 châteaux in Bordeaux, and almost 90% of the wine made in this region is red wine or claret. Typically made from a blend of different grapes, other varieties (white, sparkling etc) are also widely available.

Bordeaux city is 867km from Calais and the drive, which takes you southwest on the A10 should take just under 8-hours.

Beaujolais wine tasting

Beaujolais wines are often associated with celebrations and social occasions. As well as having high-quality appellations, the vineyards in the Beaujolais region are set across rolling hills, offering beautiful views to accompany your first glass. 

The grapes used in most Beaujolais wines are Gamy Noir, which gives it a light, fruity flavour. The wine’s low tannin and refreshing acidity also make it incredibly easy to drink. 

The drive to Beaujolais is less than 2-hours from Calais, making it an ideal stopping point if you’re returning from, or planning to visit, further away regions. 

A farmer wakes through a vineyard in rural wine country France, harvesting grapes

Provence and the Côte d'Azur

The ultimate destination for anyone wanting to combine wine tasting and the sunny shores of the south of France is Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

Although the journey from Calais to the Côte d'Azur is just under 10 and a half hours, once you arrive there’s a strong chance you won’t want to leave. Provence has been producing wine for over 2,600 years since the Greeks founded the city of Marseille. The Côtes de Provence is the area’s largest AOC, and the region has a flari for producing fresh, summery rosé wines.

Carrying international renown, the Bandol AOC produces delicious full-flavoured red wines. Equally as delightful are the white wines of Cassis, which are the perfect thing to drink as you watch the sunset across the Riviera. 

Cold rose wine in glasses served on outdoor terrace

Explore the wine regions of France with LeShuttle

Book your next trip to France with LeShuttle and start your wine tasting journey. Once you reach our Calais terminal, you’re well on your way to enjoying your first glass of something delicious.

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