Le Foodist Paris Cooking Class

Going Wine Tasting for the First Time: Things You Need to Know

Read more about our Wine Tasting Classes here

Wine tasting events can be a very enjoyable experience. By attending them, you'll be able to visit the vineyard where certain types were produced and taste a few varieties that it has to offer on your trip. However, this isn't just as simple as showing up and drinking a few glasses.

It has a very intricate setup that everyone needs to know if they plan to take how does a wine tasting event work? This guide will help you know what to expect before you visit one. 

going wine tasting for the first time

Tips for Wine Tasting Events

Read more about our Wine Tasting Classes here

  • Consider Your Outfit

Dressing correctly for this is crucial, but something that is often disregarded. You'll want to be sure to dress comfortably as you'll travel up and down the vineyard to see the land during the day where the grapes are grown. The dress code tends to be informal although some vineyards might request you dress formally. However, don't wear white to the wineries as any possible spills will show on your clothing and leave a permanent stain. 

  • Budget 

It can be easy to overspend at one of these events because there are many choices available. While they tend to not be very expensive (only about $15-20 for a few glasses), it can eventually add up. Because of this, you'll want to make sure to stick to a budget so you don't overspend. 

  • gastronomy pic mobile

    Be Sure to Ask Plenty of Questions

This is your time to ask any questions you might have about wine. You can ask the winemaker about the history of the vineyard, the types of barrels it's stored in, or why they chose to grow a certain type of grape. The answers can be very informing and help you learn more about the pressing process. You can even ask them about the serving temperature and if they think this beverage tastes better warm or cold

If you're looking to ask other questions, some other things you might ask are:

  • Do you have blended options?
  • What type of casks do you use? How do they impact the flavor?
  • Which type has the highest alcohol content?
  • How do you tell if a bottle has gone bad?
  • What food do you recommend to pair with this selection?
  • How can I properly store the bottle after opening it?
  • What is the best time of day to harvest the grapes? 

While it might seem like asking many questions would be annoying, it's actually welcomed. Many winemakers enjoy answering questions and being able to describe their products more and how they differ from other wineries. 

  • Hold the Glass Correctly

It's vital that you hold the wine glass correctly. You'll want to delicately take the stem of the glass to hold it. This is meant to help prevent fingerprints from being smeared all over the clean glass. However, before you drink, hold the stem and swirl the liquid in the glass around a bit to help increase the oxygen in it. The oxygen helps this drink to "breathe" which allows it to start enhancing its flavor even more. 

  • Watch the Wine You Choose

Because this is your first time doing this you want to take it slow. Ideally, you should begin with lighter ones and work up to richer, darker selections. The darker it is, the older it tends to be so it's a little more intense than new bottles. You'll want to try to start out with ones like dry and sweet white samples. However, toward the end of your tasting, you can try some dessert wines which give a nice touch to the end. 

  • Use All Your Senses 

It's not just your palate you need to use when enjoying this beverage. You need to use other senses like your smell. You should always smell your wine before drinking it. This will help you to get acquainted with it a bit more before you consume it. Does it smell fruity? Strong? Clean?

One iconic area well-known for its bottles that test all the senses is the Napa Valley. The famed creations from here popular for a reason - because they encourage you to use all your senses. Napa selections are known for their unique structure, balance, and color. These Napa choices are also well-known for aging well and taste marvelous after sitting for years in oak casks. This is due to the Napa soil being extremely fertile which adds a great flavor and smell to the grapes, like with Napa Cabernet and Napa Merlot. 

Your sense of smell can also help you to identify if a bottle has gone bad. If it smells like raisins or is musty, stay away from it. 

It's also good to look at the color of it. Does the wine look nice? Are the shades even? Each type has its own shades that are required for it to be a "perfect" glass so it's important to look at it closely. 

You'll also want to swish it around in your mouth so you can get a better idea of its texture. Some people even chew it which has been shown to help enhance the drink's flavor. 

  • Use a Spittoon

If you don't want to swallow the wine you've just tried you can spit it out in a spittoon. This is a special device that has a funnel at the top which you can spit it into. While this might sound a little strange, it's actually designed to help prevent you from consuming quite a bit of alcohol which could otherwise cause you to become drunk during your tasting. If you don't like it, you can use the spittoon to spit it out so you don't have to swallow it. 

  • Drink Water and Wash Out Your Glass

Drinking a lot of wine can cause dehydration. Because of this, you'll often find some water at events to help ensure you don't become parched and lightheaded. Gulping water down after testing a few glasses will help to prevent this from happening. It's also a good idea to occasionally wash out your glass slightly with some water to prevent flavors from mixing with each other. 

These events can be a lot of fun and when you travel to different wineries you'll be able to find bottles from them you can use for future parties or dinners you might hold. The tips above will help you to find the best selections and learn more about this intricate beverage. The world offers many great selections and your first tasting surely won't be your last. 

For more information, please refer to the following pages:

gastronomy pic

And they do not have to do with what you will find in those markets. They have to do with when you can go shopping there. Open Air markets are only open in the morning. Typically from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. And they are not open every day. As a matter of fact for the vast majority they are open either open every other day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Wednesday, Friday, Sunday), or sometimes only twice a week. 

This is the case of the Bastille Market (Metro Bastille and Metro Bréguet Sabin )which is open only on Thursday and Sunday morning. We like to send people there because it is a very big market with over one hundred vendors. And it has a nice stand of Crêperie in the middle. Here you get a video of a lady preparing a crêpe there; and you can get that crêpe for only 3 Euros!
There is only one Open Air market open every day of the week, it is called Marché Aligre (Metro Ledru Rollin or Metro Faidherbe Chaligny) which happens on the eponymous street. It is an interesting market because you find all kinds of quality in that market – the good, the bad and the ugly. There is also a nice covered market in the middle of it called Marché Beauveau – sometimes called Marché Beauveau Aligre. On the contrary, Covered Markets are open every day, and not just in the morning, but also in the late afternoon. Typically from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

We are blessed with two markets close to where Le Foodist is located, so we can walk to a market every morning – sometimes it is the Maubert market, and sometimes it is the Monge market. Both nice with their own specififies. Last but not least, none of these markets is open on Monday. Do not sign-up for a Market Tour on Monday, you might never see that money again …

Choosing Ingredients in Paris

While all markets are different, they also have some things in common. First they work on specific schedules as explained before. But also you will find always at a minimum the following vendors: a Maraîcher – this is the name we give to people selling fruits and vegetables, a butcher, a fishmonger, a cheesemonger and a baker. Normally you will find several of each, with different levels of quality, organic or non-organic, local or not local (but mostly not local unfortunately).
And we explain how to recognize each of those of course during our Market Visits and Cooking Classes in Paris. But choosing ingredients can be daunting at first, because of the variety that is on display. A typical fishmonger will carry 20 different types of fishes, and as many shrimp and shelf fish varieties. A good cheese monger will easily carry up to 100 different types of cheese and obviously you could get over 100 different cuts of meat at a butcher (from the type of meat to the cut itself). And a normal Maraicher will carry between 50 and 100 fruits and vegetables as well.
This is what makes these markets so exciting – the variety of products, the beauty of their display, and the exchange you can have with most of the vendors. We give you tips though on how to make sure that exchange with the vendors go well – a few magic words, and everything will be fine!

Cooking in Paris

Obviously going to markets is nice, but actually knowing that you are going to cook what you find there is even more exciting. It is not uncommon for Parisians to buy a little bit too much food because they get so excited at the idea of cooking it all! But as most of us have hardly any space where we live, that can limit the enthusiasm sometimes. Because of the lack of space, Cooking in Paris can be quite different from cooking in the rest of France. And there are also dishes that are typically associated with regions which the Parisian will not cook at home – but taste when they visit friends or families in the various regions of France. However our kitchen has plenty of space, so we can cook traditional French dishes without a problem – whether they come from Paris or any region. And the most important part for us is to ensure that we share techniques much more than just recipes. As a matter of fact, we love to share a bit of the science behind what we do so people can better remember the “what” by understanding the “why”.

Sharing Stories

In November 2010, some experts from the UN cultural organisation, decided tha France’s multi-course gastronomic meal, with its rites and its presentation, fulfilled the conditions for featuring on the “world intangible list” of the UNESCO.
In this list you can find all kinds of cultural practices, including Mexico Day of the Dead festival for example. Importantly this is not suggesting French cuisine is better than other cuisines (even though we the French tend to believe that …). It is only saying that the gastronomic meal and what it entails is a very vivid cultural practice which people in France partake into on a very regular basis. That is why the same experts indicated that the French gastronomic meal is a “social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups”. And in that social custom, there are many parts: the attention we pay to the way we choose ingredients, how we pair wine with food, how many dishes we will present to our guests, how we lay the table, etc… But one big part of the cultural practice is that commensality (the fact of sharing the food) is always accompanied by sharing stories about …. Well, you would have guessed it, Food of course!
To us it is THE perfect example of how Food and Culture come together – actually we decide to share food is a considered a cultural practice. I would argue that it is true of all countries, regions, etc… As the way we relate to Food is such a big part of anybody’s identity. But as a result and to make sure you have the most genuine experience of French culture, after the a coking class in Paris at Le Foodist, you will share a gastronomic meal at a common table with your Chef and fellow participants to the class.

French Wine and Food Pairing

As mentioned above, one of the big cultural practices in France is choosing how to pair Wine and Food in general and Wine and Cheese in particular. We actually have a class which focuses specifically on this. As it is so important though, we always make sure we share white and red wines during our meals, chosen to pair well in our opinion with the food we cook. And being at the table together is a good opportunity to discuss about wine as well, with concepts such as “terroir” (to simplify, terroir means “what you do depends on where you are”) which are essential to grasp the way the French think about Food.
And all this will always go with a cheering “Santé” – which quite simply means, to your good health!

More About Our Baguettes Classes

Getting a bit technical during our Baguette Class in Paris

The French baguette, actually probably better known as the Parisian baguette has beome a true symbol of French popular gastronomy. A true icon of French life even - look around and you will see the Parisians strolling back home with their baguettes under their arm. But if you are French why would you learn how to do this? You can buy a baguette at any corner of Paris for about one Euro a piece.  But in our Baguette Class in Paris  you will learn how do this from scratch. It is somewhat technical, but also full of tips and tricks. But when you leave, it will have not secret left for you. From the original mix to the famous "scarification" through adding water to your oven through baking, you will see and do it all.

Learning more during your Baguette class in Paris: Croque Monsieur Bread and Brioche

This class is like all our other baking or cooking classes: totally hands-on. So you get to practice from beginning to end - and to taste at the end. But not only will you learn how to make Baguette, but you will also learn to make two more types of bread: the French Croque Monsieur bread. The basis for the classic French bistrot appetizer. And in your Baguette class in Paris you will also learn how to make your own Brioche. Probably the most indulgent bread you will find in France - if not the lightest ...

And you might learn some history during your Baguette Class in Paris

While you will learn the techniques to create - and get to taste - three classic types of French breads, you will also learn some of the stories on the origin of the baguette. Just beware it is still being quite hotly debated. What is for sure though is that the Baguette is absolutely part of today Parisian's life. A classic you will be able to take back home with you.

More About Our Wine and Cheese Lunch in Paris

Cheese and Wine in Paris

The pleasures we can derive from French cuisine can seem endless.  However two of the best known and loved French gastronomic heroes are French cheese and wine. Whether we talk about a Brie which actually comes from very close to Paris, to a creamy Camembert from Normandy, or a Comté from the Alps, French cheese has a delight for all palates. And of course, French wines are even better known whether from Bordeaux great wines or Burgundy sophisticated whites – all of which enthral wine lovers.  Well, at our course on cheese and wine in Paris you will come to appreciate that although each is delicious on its own, properly matched cheese and wine together can make the experience of each even more enjoyable and an absolute delight.

How to pair French cheese and wine

Because not all pairings are actually what people expect, at Le Foodist we have decided to call these experiences 'Daring Pairings'. Maybe because we like to step out of the ordinary to challenge our taste buds, but really all we try to do is give you the perfect match fo cheese and wine in Paris.  So not only will you learn how to select the best wine to go with your cheese, but you will also learn what are the big cheese families in France – there are actually only five, and this is one of the keys to great pairing. In discovering all these pairings of cheese with wine you will be convinced that indeed two things together can be better than the sum of their parts.

It is important to have fun with pairing cheese and wine in Paris

Beyond the tastings though, we have found that the best way to help our clients remember and re-use their experience is to vary the way to approach both wine and cheese.  That is why during our courses on cheese and wine in Paris we share sensory games and many an anecdote to bring the produce to life in your mind as well as on your palate. Overall we will feature four excellent wines, one Champagne and demonstrate to you how best each combines with cheese, letting your taste guide you along with our teaching.

Understanding cheese and wine pairing while in Paris

While for many top Parisian wine stores and restaurant wine lists can be confusing and even intimidating, we believe that after our lunch learning how to pair cheese and wine in Paris, you will feel much more comfortable navigating all of those.  And we sincerely hope your knowledge will help you unlock a door to a whole new world of enjoyment of French wine and cheese pairing.  At every step of the way our sommelier will also share unique tips and tricks to understand wines better and how culture and wine are so related in France; hopefully enriching your own experience as well.

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