In Honor of the Annual Grape Harvest which took place this month in Montmarte, Emily brings us a line up of some of Paris’s best Best Natural Wine Shops.
Anyone who has stepped inside a Paris wine bar, bistro, or restaurant will see that wine flows freely in the city. The seemingly endless choice of French wine on menus and chalkboards across Paris gives the impression that the country is blessed with an endless selection of bottomless barrels of wine. While many regions of the country are covered in grapevines, someone has to get the grapes to the bottle, and its important to recognize the hard work that goes into transforming these painstakingly-cultivated fruits into the fermented grape juice we enjoy with our meals.
Natural wines can be enjoyed at anytime of year, but a good time to search for it is during the annual grape harvest is a great time to celebrate and kick off the cycle of turning grapes into wine. All around France, from September to October, winemakers gather teams of pickers to come help cut bunches of grapes and cart them back to wine cellars where the delicate process of winemaking will begin. While larger, conventional winemakers have replaced humans with machines for the picking process, small scale natural winemakers keep the tradition of handpicking alive- sometimes even using horses to pull the crates of grapes out of the aisles and aisles of grapevines.
These are the most festive vineyards to harvest in, where workers from around the country- and sometimes the world- convene to work together but also share meals and a common passion for wine. These are also the domains where you will find the most engaged winemakers, vignerons who have accompanied the cultivation of their grapes from the winter pruning season to the second pruning of spring, through the summertime threats of early morning frost and late afternoon sunburn, to the Autumn where they can literally reap the fruits of their labor.
The best way to learn more about your favorite wines and how they are made is by speaking directly with the winemaker or reading interviews with said winemakers. This is easier to do than you may think, as most independent winemakers are happy to meet with you and take you on a tour of their vineyard, usually followed by a tasting. Another way to meet with winemakers is by attending one of the various tastings that occur in cities across France- the biggest one being La Dive Bouteille which takes place every winter in Saumur. If you can’t travel to meet your favorite winemaker, the next best thing is to have a local caviste, or wine seller, who can speak in their place. If you want to be an educated wine drinker and support winemakers who work ethically an informed caviste is essential to point you in the right direction.
From Beaujolais to the Loire, Alsace to Uzès, there are so many French wines to choose from it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily Paris is full of wonderful wine shops staffed by knowledgeable wine geeks who are eager to share the story of the vins and vignerons that they work with. Here are a few favorites that are scattered across the city, assuring that you’ll never be far from your next great bottle of wine:
10, rue du Grand-Prieuré, 75011 Paris
This is the spot to visit in Spring or Summer where you can not only find a selection of natural wines, but also artisanal ice cream made by Taiwanese American pastry chef Jessica Yang. Here, you have a ‘Cave à Vins’ that has made itself stand out with its unique combination of delights. The sommelier will base their choice of wines on the exchange with the client in order to create the perfect match. In explaining why they decided to make this pairing, they say that both wine and ice cream gives a huge amount of happiness to people. But you don’t have to come for ice cream AND wine, you can also come for either the ice cream or the wine as both products have been carefully selected to have a high quality.
It’s truly a unique experience and worth visiting in the warmer seasons from April while they are open.
Crus et Découvertes
This long-standing destination for natural wine lovers is located on one of the city’s most gourmand streets: rue Paul Bert. With equally gourmet neighbors including the Bistro Paul Bert empire and La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac, Crus et Découvertes is an essential part of your culinary tour of Paris. Pop in and get advice from the friendly staff as well as access to some of the best wines France has to offer- including hard to find bottles that this shop snags thanks to its longtime relationships with winemakers that have become world renown and much sought after.
La Cave des Papilles
Another Paris wine institution is La Cave des Papilles, which not only has one of the city’s best selection of wines but also holds frequent events that allow Parisians to meet the winemakers found on the shop’s shelves. Long-time supporters of the natural wine movement, the team behind La Cave des Papilles has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of vin nature in France – and the bottles to back it up!
Located in the hip Belleville neighborhood of the 19th arrondissement, this Paris wine shop also functions as an épicerie and wine bar. An ideal spot to stop and sip a glass while feeling like a local, the selection of wines also guarantees you’ll find something special to take home.
Le Garde Robe
It can be hard to find quality addresses amidst the tourist attractions of central Paris yet a stone’s throw away from the Louvre and Rue du Rivoli you’ll find Le Garde Robe. Despite their chic address in this moneyed section of Paris, the mood at Le Garde Robe is laid back, with locals and tourists alike pulling up a stool at the bar or making room for one more at shared sidewalk tables. The wine selection is small, but frequently changing, with the knowledgeable sommeliers switching out bottles as soon as something in their cellar starts to taste too good to miss.
Le Verre Volé
The relaxed and welcoming vibe of the Verre Volé and its convenient canal-side locations make this natural wine reference a perfect part of any picnic plan. Head to the original address on rue de Lancry for a bottle to go (or a great meal if you feel so inclined). There’s also the wine shop on rue Oberkampf that overflows with bottles from France and beyond. Just down the street from the cave there is L’Épicerie Verre Volé where you can grab other picnic essentials and be on your way, pairing delicious food with your exceptional wine in no time!
Deepen your wine knowledge with a wine & cheese tasting class in Paris at Cook’n With Class Paris