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Five great ways to learn about French wines

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O'Sullivan

You don't have to sign up for a traditional evening class: there are lots of more interesting ways to become a connoisseur. Here are five of our favourite.

Take to the water

Book one of Belmond’s luxury Burgundy six-day river cruises and you can add a three-day Wine Academy, led by a local expert. The programme can be adjusted according to level of expertise and includes a wide variety of tastings and estate visits. A week’s private charter starts at £26,400 on an all-inclusive basis; the Wine Academy costs an additional £700 per person based on four people in a group. Stay at a wine château

Relais & Châteaux has lots of members in France that fit the bill, including the magical Château de Mercuès in Cahors (above). This 13th-century château is set among 32 hectares of vineyards, and produces several award-winning Malbecs. Wine-tastings are held in the winery under the terrace. From €171 per night. Go for the day 

Lots of companies offer organised wine-tasting trips. But if you only have one day to spare, take a Grape Escapes Essential Médoc Day Tour (£173 per person). An English-speaking driver/guide will pick you up in Bordeaux city centre, and take you to tastings at three of your preferred châteaux. See website for other available day tours.Have a bubbly weekend

Champagne is the nearest top wine-growing region to the UK so perfect for a shorter break. Arblaster & Clarke’s Champagne Weekends (£595) include visits to the cellars of some of the most famous houses, as well as a selection of smaller houses and growers. Expect to taste at least 25 Champagnes over the course of the weekend. Go private

Le Pavillon (above) is a beautiful villa in Saint-Émilion. It’s run as a boutique B&B, but you can also take the entire villa (it sleeps 10) and enjoy private visits to some of the best châteaux in the appellation, wine-tasting lessons, and wine /food pairing sessions, and much more. From €1,000-€2,000 per night.

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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