What To Do First In Bordeaux? A Bordeaux Wine Course!

Of the countless wine-related activities available to tourists in Bordeaux, France, one of the most worthwhile wine-related activities in Bordeaux is a wine course, and preferably early on in your visit to Bordeaux!  Dan and I commenced our four-day stay in Bordeaux with a wine course at Max Bordeaux Wine Gallery and our experience certainly shaped our time in Bordeaux! Here we are entering Max Bordeaux, and is fabulous wineglass ceiling is featured in the cover picture!


What is a wine course one might ask, as I did when planning my trip?  A wine course is a 45 – 90 minute tutorial on Bordeaux wines that typically ends with a tasting of two or three Bordeaux wines.  Our wine course at Max Bordeaux explained the history of Bordeaux and Bordeaux wine, went through the numerous areas around Bordeaux in which Bordeaux wine is produced (and even gave us a map) and the various classifications of Bordeaux wines, provided tasting notes and included a tasting of three wines reflective of our wine preferences.  Based on our preference of bold reds, we tasted a 2013 Domaine de Chevalier Grand Cru Classé de Graves, a 2006 Château Bauzan-Ségla Grand Cru Classé Margaux and a 2011 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 1er Grand Cru Classé Clos Fourtet. Pretty fancy for a tasting!


While you might think that wine is everywhere in Bordeaux and you don’t need an explanatory class, a Bordeaux wine course is important for first-time visitors to the area, because Bordeaux wine is classified much differently than wines from other wine regions.  For example, grape names are not used in naming Bordeaux wines.  Instead, wines are named for their particular “terrior,” which roughly translates to the combination of light, rain, lack of rain, soil composition, temperature, wind and a variety of other things that shape the taste of grapes grown in certain, very specific areas.  A wine’s terrior is unique, and there are so many different terriors around Bordeaux, yet all fall under the general Bordeaux wine umbrella.  Confused?  In addition, certain wines have received special designations.  In any case, unless you are a Bordeaux wine professional, a wine course will serve you well and give you confidence before heading out into the broad world of Bordeaux wine!


Several other establishments offer wine courses in Bordeaux, including the famous École due Vin (closed when we were there!). As I mentioned, our wine course at Max Bordeaux included three high-end tastings, but Max Bordeaux offers different types of courses for varying interests and levels of knowledge about Bordeaux wine.


After our wine course ended, we spent a little more time at Max Bordeaux tasting some more fabulous Bordeaux wines!  One of the great things about Max Bordeaux is its mission to make great Bordeaux wines available to everyone. To accomplish this, Max Bordeaux has an excellent tasting room accessible to anyone (even if you do not take a wine course) that offers some of Bordeaux most famous wines in glass format, which is very uncommon!  For example, one can taste Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc and Mouton Rothschild in Max Bordeaux tasting room.

To accomplish the tasting, purchase a tasting card loaded with however money you want.  Each time you taste a new wine, your card is debited based on the cost to taste the wine and the size of tasting (25, 50 or 75 ml).  I found this concept fantastic, as it allows one to try many different types of wine before purchasing, and it allows one to taste very expensive wine in the glass format, which is almost never allowed!  However, I will note that tastings of the expensive wines are correspondingly expensive, some we saw were €30,00 a taste!  Although many were between €1,00 and €5,00 a taste.  Prices are clearly displayed on each bottle.




Max Bordeaux: 14 Cours de l”Intendance, 33000 Bordeaux. T: +33 (05) 57 29 23 81. E: gallery@maxbordeaux.com. Open Monday – Saturday, 11:00 – 18:00. Public transportation via Tram Line B, “Grand Theatre” stop. Our wine course cost €35,00/person through Bordeaux Office of Tourism (link here).

École du Vin de Bordeaux: 3 Cours du XXX Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux. T: +33 (0)5 56 00 22 85
E: ecole@bordeaux.com. Located in front of the Bordeaux Office of Tourism. Offers similar wine courses. Check the website for specific offerings.

Aux 4 Coins de Vin: 8 rue de la Devise, Bordeaux. T: +33 (05) 57 34 37 29. E. closben@aux4coinsduvin.com. Bar/restaurant with similar tasting concept to Max Bordeaux, but without the wine course and the really expensive wines.  Serves food. Open Monday – Tuesday 18:00 – 00:00 and Wednesday  – Saturday 18:00 – 1:00. Closed Sunday.

On A Budget

The Bordeaux Office of Tourism posts lots of wine course offerings, although most seem to be around the same price. The Bordeaux Office of Tourism also includes a “mini wine course” included with a number of their day tours.

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