Raise a Glass: Take on an Unforgettable Wine Tour in Reims

Reims, a charming city in the heart of the Champagne region in northeastern France, is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts. With its rich history, world-renowned vineyards, and exquisite wine flavors, Reims offers a wine tour experience like no other. If you're a lover of fine wines and fascinated by the art of wine making, then Reims should be at the top of your travel list.

10/6/20236 min read

Reims in Champagne, France
Reims in Champagne, France

The Rich History of Wine in Reims

As you embark on your wine tour in Reims, it's essential to appreciate the rich history that has shaped the region's wine culture. Reims is considered the birthplace of Champagne, the sparkling wine that has captured hearts around the world. For centuries, the vineyards in this region have been producing some of the finest wines, making Reims a beacon for wine connoisseurs.

Reims, located in the northeastern part of France, is nestled in the heart of the picturesque Champagne region. The city's history dates back to Roman times, and its favorable climate and fertile soil have made it an ideal location for vineyards. The unique combination of chalky soil, cool climate, and gentle slopes creates the perfect conditions for growing grapes, particularly the three main grape varieties used in Champagne production: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

The Birthplace of Champagne

Reims holds a significant place in the history of champagne production. It was right here that Dom Pérignon, a monk, made important advancements in the process of making sparkling wine. Born in 1638, Dom Pérignon became the cellar master of the Abbey of Hautvillers, a small village near Reims. It was during his time at the abbey that he dedicated himself to perfecting the art of winemaking.

Dom Pérignon's pioneering techniques, such as corking bottles to retain bubbles, revolutionized the industry. He also introduced the concept of blending different grape varieties to achieve a harmonious and complex flavor profile. Today, his name is synonymous with excellence and is often associated with the highest quality Champagne.

To this day, you can visit the magnificent Champagne houses in Reims to witness the legacy of Dom Pérignon and indulge in the finest bubbly. The cellars of these prestigious houses hold a treasure trove of aging Champagne, with bottles dating back several decades. Guided tours take you through the labyrinthine tunnels, where you can learn about the traditional methods of Champagne production and sample the exquisite flavors that have made Reims famous.

The Influence of Reims on French Wine Culture

Beyond its association with Champagne, Reims has played a crucial role in shaping French wine culture. The city has been the coronation site for French kings for centuries, with the magnificent Reims Cathedral serving as the backdrop for these grand ceremonies. The connection between royalty and Reims' wines adds a touch of elegance and prestige to the region's winemaking heritage.

When you explore the vineyards and taste the wines in Reims, you are savoring a piece of France's regal history. The vineyards themselves are a sight to behold, with row upon row of meticulously pruned vines stretching as far as the eye can see. The winemakers, often from generations of winemaking families, pour their passion and expertise into every bottle, ensuring that each sip is a testament to the region's winemaking traditions.

Reims is not only a destination for wine enthusiasts but also a cultural hub. The city is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and historic landmarks, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for visitors. From exploring the ancient Roman ruins to strolling along the charming streets lined with half-timbered houses, Reims captivates with its blend of history, art, and gastronomy.

So, as you embark on your wine tour in Reims, take the time to immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of this enchanting city. Raise a glass of Champagne, and toast to the centuries of winemaking excellence that have made Reims a true gem in the world of wine.

Wine communities in Reims, Champagne, France.
Wine communities in Reims, Champagne, France.

Planning Your Wine Tour in Reims

Before embarking on your wine tour, it's essential to plan your visit to Reims to ensure you make the most of your experience. From the best time, to the best accommodation alternatives you can book, to visit to the essential stops along the way, here's everything you need to know.

Best Time to Visit Reims for Wine Lovers

Reims is a year-round destination for wine enthusiasts, but the ideal time to visit is during the harvest season between August and October. The vineyards come alive with vibrant colors, and you can witness the winemaking process firsthand. The crisp autumn air adds to the charm of exploring the vineyards, and you'll have the chance to participate in grape picking and stomping.

Essential Stops on Your Wine Tour

As you embark on your wine tour, there are several must-visit stops that should be on your itinerary. Begin with a visit to the iconic Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This majestic cathedral, with its stunning Gothic architecture, holds historical significance in the French monarchy.

After admiring the cathedral, head to some of the renowned Champagne houses in Reims. Bask in the opulence of Taittinger, enjoy a warm welcome at Veuve Clicquot, or immerse yourself in the traditions of Pommery. These Champagne houses offer guided tours, wine tastings, and a chance to explore their cellars.

If you're interested in the more intimate side of winemaking, consider visiting smaller, family-run wineries. These hidden gems provide a unique perspective on winemaking and offer a more personal experience.

Small winery in Reims, Champagne, France
Small winery in Reims, Champagne, France

Understanding the Wine Making Process in Reims

Before you can truly appreciate the flavors of Reims wine, it's essential to understand the meticulous process behind its production. From vine to bottle, the Champagne process is a delicate art that requires precision and expertise.

From Vine to Bottle: The Champagne Process

The journey of a Reims wine begins in the vineyards, where carefully selected grapes are harvested by hand. The grapes undergo a process called pressing, which extracts the juice needed for winemaking. Fermentation then takes place, followed by a second fermentation in the bottle that creates the iconic bubbles. This is followed by aging, blending, and finally, the corks are popped, and the wine is ready to be savored.

The Art of Wine Tasting in Reims

Wine tasting in Reims is not just about sipping wine; it's an immersive experience that engages all your senses. Take pleasure in the sparkling dance of bubbles as you raise your glass. Inhale the delicate aromas that waft from your glass, identifying notes of citrus, floral, or toasted nuts. Finally, savor the flavors as they dance on your palate, noting the wine's complexity, balance, and unique characteristics.

The Unique Flavors of Reims Wine

What sets Reims wine apart from other regions is its distinctive flavors. Each wine variety has its own unique characteristics that reflect the terroir and winemaker's expertise.

Identifying the Notes in Your Glass

When tasting Reims wine, train your palate to identify the different flavor profiles. The region's Chardonnay grapes produce wines with notes of green apple, pear, and lemon. Pinot Noir, another prominent grape variety, adds structure and depth with hints of red fruits and spice. Finally, Pinot Meunier contributes softness and aromas of citrus and white fruits.

Pairing Reims Wine with Food

To truly appreciate the flavors of Reims wine, it's essential to pair them with the right food. The region's sparkling wines, with their crisp acidity and lively bubbles, are a perfect match for seafood, such as oysters or scallops. The elegance of Reims red wines pairs beautifully with roasted meats, while the sweetness of dessert wines complements fruit-based desserts.

Beyond the Vineyards: Exploring Reims

While Reims is undoubtedly a paradise for wine lovers, there's much more to discover beyond the vineyards. The city is steeped in history, with impressive landmarks, excellent accommodation options, and a vibrant culinary scene.

Historical Landmarks in Reims

Take a break from wine tasting and explore the historical landmarks in Reims. Visit the Palais du Tau, a former archbishop's palace, which now houses a museum showcasing the city's rich history. Admire the Saint-Remi Basilica, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, and learn about its connection to the French monarchy. The city's well-preserved Porte de Mars, a Roman triumphal arch, is also worth a visit.

Local Cuisine to Try in Reims

To complete your wine tour experience, indulge in the local cuisine of Reims. Sample regional specialties such as foie gras, delicately crafted charcuterie, and the famous pink-hued Reims ham. Pair these delectable treats with a glass of Champagne for a truly unforgettable culinary experience.

Where To Stay in Reims

When visiting Reims, you'll find a range of accommodation options to suit every preference. For those seeking luxury, consider staying at the beautiful Les Crayères, a prestigious hotel housed in a 20th-century château. The cozy La Caserne Chanzy Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection, offers a charming and intimate atmosphere. If you prefer a central location, the Les 7 Anges apartments in Reim's City Center is a great choice, located just steps away from the cathedral.

Raise a glass and embark on an unforgettable wine tour in Reims. Explore the rich history, taste exquisite wines, and immerse yourself in the culture that has made Reims a wine-lover's paradise. Whether you're a seasoned wine connoisseur or new to the world of wine, Reims promises an experience that will leave you with lasting memories.