Covering several hundred square miles with hundreds of wineries, Loire Valley wine tasting opportunities are numerous. This French region may be one of the world’s most well-known wine-producing areas – but HOLY COW how do you get to experience it all on a short visit? The wine trail (“La route des vignobles”) is nearly 500 miles!
The Loire Valley tourist and wine experts have figured that out for you, so take a breath and get ready to take a sip (or two, or three…).
In four central towns along the Loire River (Nantes, Saumur, Angers and Tours), the professional group representing wine growers has opened tasting rooms and educational centers as a truly smart promotion of the area. There, you can get informed, pick up literature about wineries, buy wine, wine-taste on your own, or participate in a formal wine tasting event.
Real education at a Loire Valley wine tasting
What am I waiting for? As big fan of Loire’s whites and rosés, the feminine half of HI Travel Tales took her chance to sign up for a formal tasting program at the “Maison des Vins de Loire” (House of Loire Wine)in Tours on a visit. In these centers, you’ll find approximately 51 appellations represented, coming from Nantes to Blois, including white, red and rosé, still and sparkling. Really, there is something for everyone.
By “color,” the Loire wines break down as approximately 45 percent white, 20 percent rosé, 20 percent red, and 15 percent with bubbles. Principal white varietals include Chenin, Sauvignon and Melon de Bourgogne, while reds are Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Côt.
Loire Valley wine tasting in Tours
At the Tours “Maison,” our group settled in as the hostess/educator set up the six wines we’d taste as well as some truly delightful munchies. As a side note, the Loire has a superior climate for agriculture and everything related (sometimes called “the Garden of France”), meaning that you’ll also find wonderful fruits, vegetables, cheeses and flowers too. And don’t forget that UNESCO named the central part of the region as a World Heritage Site in 2000.
The Maison educator for our group discussed all of those wine techy things you may want to know, from type of varietal, blends, quantity of sugar, length of fermentation, acidity, aromas, descriptive terminology and everything in between. Heck, we just thought the wine was dang good – especially on a warm summer day.
When it comes to wine-food pairings, she summarized simply: “Vin simple avec plat simple. Vin complex avec plat complex” (A simple wine with a simple dish; a complex wine with a complex dish.) — I liked that straightforward interpretation!
I walked away knowing more than I thought I could after 90 minutes, but also with a higher appreciation for Loire Valley wine. Casual tastings at the counter are EUR 4-5, while more formal sessions are about EUR 15-25 per person. As of this writing, the Loire Valley wine-tasting rooms were closed Sundays and Mondays.
There is no lack of information on the Internet, including in English for those who haven’t quite managed to “parler français.”
- Find all the information from the Loire Valley wine collective at Vins Valle de Loire.
- Take a look even more wine and wine-tasting education at the Loire Valley wine-makers marketing group.
- And of course find out more about the Loire Valley beyond wine (you will need to eat and sleep, right?) from the Loire Valley Tourist Bureau.