Wine has been around the since dawn of age; it’s visible in ancient Egyptian pictographs; we know it was a tasty tipple of the Babylonians (who even had a wine goddess!) and even now it’s still a staple of religion and worship – not to mention on a Friday night. This popular drink has developed into one of the world’s most lucrative industries and certainly in France it is one of the most important.
So if you love wine as much as we do, then head Ô Château when you’re in Paris. Offering an introductory wine tasting course, why not try your hand; sample 3 different wines and learn about the smell, taste and look of France’s most popular grapes.
We spoke to Ô Château’s head sommelier, Alexandre Savoie, to find out about his top tips, personal favourites and where to go in Paris for the best glass of vin…
How long have you been a sommelier for and what made you want to become a wine connoisseur?
I’ve been a sommelier for many years now, I used to be in the banking business. The passion for wine developed gradually for me until I had no other choice but to consider making it my career. I became obsessed with wine and had to try to understand how simple grapes can become such a complex and outstanding beverage as wine. I moved to France and started working as a sommelier, slowly owning my craft, visiting vineyards and going to as many tastings as possible. Now, I have the chance to be in Paris’ biggest wine bar, so I don’t even have to buy wine for myself anymore, every wine I like, I buy for the bar.
What is your favourite type of wine, and why?
I love lighter bodied reds that are aromatically powerful. The best example being red Burgundies, which are light, easy to drink but so complex and deep if you take a minute and pay attention to them. But you might also find me drinking a Northern Rhône Syrah, which is more full bodied but still has a wide palate of aromas and great freshness.
That being said I find myself drinking more and more whites, actually I wonder if I might drink more whites than reds…
My fondest memory, and the wine that made click, was a 1985 Aloxe-Corton by Bernard Loiseau, nothing great in theory, but drinking that bottle next to the BBQ in the cold Montreal spring with my fiancée was memorable. That’s what’s great about wine is that what’s inside the bottle can transcend its intrinsic quality and become so much more with the right setting.
As an expert, what’s your top tip for wine tasting?
Try not to get too serious about it, wine is there to be enjoyed, not over-analysed. In other words, focus for just a minute to capture the wine, and then simply enjoy!
What’s the funniest thing anyone has asked you in a wine tasting class?
“We’ve been talking about rosé since the beginning of class, but who is Rosé?”
Obviously, being an industry of pleasure, we get a lot of funny anecdotes because people come to us to enjoy themselves, so we try our best to give them that pleasure.
How many bottles of wine can the Ô Château wine cellars store?
We have about 700 different wines because we change the 40 wines by the glass every week, which makes my life more difficult but so much more fun. I actually have no choice but to taste at least 40 wines a week, but you won’t see me complain!
Where in Paris can you go for the best wine?
Undeniably at 68 JJ Rousseau, 75001 – Ô Château!
The 1st and 2nd arrondissement are also booming with great restaurants with an excellent, if sometimes limited, wine list and great wine bars.
Anything else to add into the mix?
The wine world is going through an amazing phase of rediscovery right now, never has there been as many good wines as now. Small artisanal producers are on the rise for the better and so this is a great time to try wines you’ve never had and rediscover your own palate, just make sure you don’t get influenced by what others say you should like.
I know the more wines I try, the more regions I discover and the more open minded I become about wine. Best thing I can tell you is to go to the vineyards, meet the vine growers and discover the culture behind the wines you drink.
If you don’t have time and you’re in Paris, drop by Ô-Château and ask for Alex, I’ll be glad to take you on that journey.
Ô Château offers an hour introductory wine tasting course where you can sample three French wines in their very own wine cellar. From champagnes to Bordeaux, learn about the best flavours of France. With a Paris Pass you can make a saving of €30 when you book. Find out more, here.