When the taste for wine meets the desire to travel, new opportunities open up to lovers of the terroir. Do you know wine tourism ? It is a stay of a few hours to several days, the main purpose of which is to discover a region by visiting its vineyards .
This way of traveling is becoming more and more democratic for several essential reasons:
- Tourists are looking for new experiences;
- Oenology (science of wine knowledge) interests more French and foreign tourists;
- The discovery of gastronomy is sublimated by the food and wine association;
- Several activities make it easy to travel with the family or in a group.
Leisure oenology has become an accessible pleasure
The techniques of observation and tasting of wines, champagnes and spirits are now accessible to amateurs of all levels. Oenology is no longer an art reserved for professionals wine, today wine growers and players in the French wine industry have understood that this tourist market is an opportunity to be seized.
Our vision of oenology differs somewhat from tradition. We see oenology as a continuous learning of tasting , whose progression adapts to the lifestyle of each. Skills and experience obviously come into play. The ability to analyze sensations seen and received is also personal, which is the beauty of oenology.
In 2016, the 10 million tourists who came especially for our vineyards is exceeded. Impressive growth and a boon for our terroirs . Let’s discover together the basics to know about oenology before book a stay on the Wine Routes .
What are the best methods for learning about oenology?
Wine tasting can be learned, as far as theory is concerned, on the internet and in many books written by various experts in the profession. The video platform YouTube has a lot of content related to the discovery of wines and how to appreciate the sight, smell and taste.
However, nothing beats practice to progress faster because some senses cannot be theoretically “learned” in textbooks or online training. To appreciate, you have to taste, make mistakes, and start over .
The best methods to learn about oenology are learning the theory first, then moving on to a course accompanied by a professional. These oenology lessons can take place in big cities, in a wine cellar for example, or in a estate in the countryside with the winegrower. Each experience is different, we recommend to vary the activities as much as possible at first to find out what suits you the most.
How to prepare an oenological stay (weekend, excursion, etc.)?
Have you been thinking about the idea for some time? Do not wait any longer to prepare your next stay to discover new wines and landscapes. In the first place, choose a region , whether for its grape varieties, its climate, the distance from your home, etc. It is essential that you feel good there. In France, you are spoiled for choice! Jura, Burgundy, Aquitaine, Alsace or even Provence, there is something for everyone.
Alone or accompanied, preferably go with someone who has the same goal as you : concentrate during wine-making activities. Regardless of the level of the person with whom you are going to discover new appellations, it is preferable that they be as interested as you in oenology. Even your children can participate in the observation of wine (dress, nose) without tasting it from 12 years old.
Basic advice before enjoying a wine tasting:
- Discard the tasted wine in a spittoon, with some exceptions. The euphoria of alcohol alters the senses, even more when you are on an empty stomach during a tasting;
- Arrive on an empty stomach, or at least 2h30 after your last meal at initiation;
- Do not let yourself be influenced by a “beautiful label”, you are free to form your own opinion on a wine;
Is wine tourism necessarily associated with oenology?
In recent years, wine tourism has evolved. More and more French and foreign visitors highlight the heritage and cultural discovery before the more “scientific” discovery of wines. This is why we can say today that wine tourism is not necessarily associated with oenology . Although the activities offered by our partner winegrowers often include a tasting, it is quite possible to enjoy other activities during a wine tourism stay without focusing on the development of wine-making skills:
- Discover a historical and cultural heritage (museums, histories and geography of the vineyards, legends of the great regional houses and families…) and architectural heritage with the many castles, cellars and cellars on your wine route;
- Play sports during hikes, orienteering races or marathons in the vineyards;
- Learn how a wine is produced according to the traditions and regional appellations, the differences between a grand cru and a “classic” wine;
- Appreciate the gastronomy of a region, enhanced by the wine associated with the dishes.
You are not engaging in a professional oenology process, wine tourism is open to everyone , and no winegrower will ask you for a diploma.
What to expect during a first wine tasting initiation? Here are the keys to fully understand oenology
Winalist gives you the keys to enjoy a first experience during an oenological workshop or a private tasting . Do you really know what a “good” wine is? The one you like! When a wine is corked, we know it will be bad. But “good” wines reside above all in the palate of the one who tastes them. During a wine class, you should first and foremost focus on how you feel and what you can take away from it.
1. The visual aspect of wine
A wine is red, white or rosé. But there are many variations to describe its appearance more precisely, such as for example the different wine dresses red (raspberry, cherry, garnet, black, purple, etc.) and white (green yellow, lemon, gold, straw, amber or even stained).
The reflections and the sheen located “above” the dress indicate acidity some wine. A clear wine is rather young, an amber wine is older.
You will discover many other terms used to visually describe a wine such as limpidity , shine, or even nuances.
2. The olfactory
The memory of scents is powerful, and some sommeliers will challenge you recognize certain aromas before tasting a wine . A common exercise is to inhale the odor emanating from vials in order to recognize the aromas, to exercise your nose, which is able to differentiate over 10,000 different smells.
The olfactory examination of the wine is then distinguished between two stages: the smell perceived by nasal passage direct (inspiration through the nose) and the aroma perceived by retro-olfaction that is to say by passage from the mouth to the nasal cavities. Three families of aromas are distinguished :
1) The primary aromas from the grape varieties, the climate or the terroir;
2) Secondary aromas resulting from the wine production and fermentation process;
3) Tertiary aromas, otherwise called “bouquet” of scents, which are the most complex to find.
Fruity, vegetal, spicy or even woody, there are about ten flavor classes in which you can further refine your olfactory analysis .
3. The taste stage of wine
Now is the time to taste the wine. Or rather the “to chew”, That is to say, keep it for 6 to 8 seconds in the mouth. For each wine, the level of acidity and smoothness (sugar / alcohol) will be defined according to your sensations. Red wines require an additional level which is tannin (young wine or old wine).
Book or offer an oenological stay
So, are you curious to learn more about wine appreciation and oenological vocabulary to become unbeatable at your next dinner with friends? It’s time to book one of the many stays or wine weekends in France . Winalist’s partner winegrowers welcome you on the wine routes by offering many activities suitable for groups of friends, couples or families with children. To find the activities that suit you, nothing could be simpler: just enter your criteria in our search engine dedicated to wine tourism in France and Europe .
Do you want to please a wine lover? Think of the Winalist gift card! Completely customizable, this Wine gift card is ideal to delight explorers and epicureans.
See you soon on the wine route!