France is currently the world’s biggest producer and fifth biggest consumer of wine, with its citizens sipping their way through an average of 45.6 litres each per year.
So it’s not surprising that its capital city offers such a vast array of places to purchase vino. From bite-sized boutiques and long-established independents to ultra-modern Sauternes cellars and wine superstores, the breadth of choice and diversity is vast. Combine your hunt for a top Bordeaux with a stroll along the Seine, gawk at the Eiffel Tower and a dainty macaron at a roadside café and the experience of shopping for wine in Paris becomes an altogether atmospheric experience worth savouring.
While few wine shops in Paris dare to step too far outside their French wine comfort zone, what they do offer they offer in abundance and, in my experience, at excellent value and with expert advice. This selection provides just a small glimpse at the variety on offer in Paris. Santé!
For the traditionalist
Bosseti is one of Paris’ oldest independent wine shops and has a pleasantly ramshackle vibe about it with personable service and a manageable yet varied selection of wines and spirits. You get the sense that it has been around the block a bit, its decor slightly worn around the edges, but in a charming, endearing way, and has stood the test of time, despite a Nicolas – a chain of wine shops with many branches throughout he city – opening directly opposite it in 2002. Bosetti stocks only French wines, with a particular focus on Burgundy, with its management preferring to be experts in their field rather than branch out into wines unfamiliar to them. Expanding its wine selection outside of France, I was told, would diminish their ability to advise their customers. Propped along the shop’s back wall is a selection of Armagnac brandies from vintages stretching back to the 60s. If you are a fan of Chartreuse, the French herbal liqueur, then this is the place to be. It stocks a myriad of the bright green and yellow varieties. Prices too are reasonable. A friend picked up a bottle of Drappier 2002 Champagne for around €45. It is also nice to know that you are supporting an independent wine retailer.
Caves Bosetti, 34 rue des Archives, 75004
For the high-rollers
The Lafayette Gallery has been a staple of Paris’ shopping-scape for years, but it was only this year that a sister outlets, Lafayette Gourmet, opened up across the street. Focusing solely on food and drink, it is home to an ultra-flash Bordeauxthéque – a 250m2 space dedicated solely to Bordeaux which it claims is largest cellar of Bordeaux wines in the world. It boasts an array of more than 1,000 different wines from the affordable to the most rare vintages from the world’s top producers. During my visit, I was shown a magnum of Petrus 1989 imperial which retailed at €60,000 (£47,500). It also boasts a staggering array of Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes wines, the oldest dating back to 1899. While Lafayette might stock some of the best and most expensive wines in the world, the modest wine buyer will also feel at home. They had a box-load of 2005 Bordeaux Haut-Médoc magnums for for €35 (£27). Not bad!
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Hausmann, 75009
La Grande Epicerie de Paris
For the foodie
Anyone who prefers their wine with a side of pate, artisan cheese or charcuterie (and who wouldn’t) should not miss a chance to visit La Grande Epicerie de Paris. A tantalising treasure trove for the adventurous foodie, La Grande Epicerie de Paris is set across several floors and occupies an area just short of 3,000m2. Packed to the rafters with more than 30,000 gourmet products, its lower level is home to a vast wine cellar offering a fine selection of Champagnes, wines and spirits as well as a healthy selection of magnums from the reasonably priced to the extortionate. Rarely have I seen such a selection of magnums in any UK outlet. It’s the kind of place you could get lost in, drifting from its bakery filled with piles of fresh pannetone to its towering fruit and veg market before perusing its never-ending aisles of artisan pates, confit duck and preserves; all while tucking into a selection of tasty samples.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris, 38 rue de Sevrés, 75007
Wine By One
For the trendsetter
Wine By One is a throughly modern concept aimed squarely at the millennial set. Comprising a wine shop, bar and club, its unique selling point is its self-serve enomatic wine machines featuring up to 100 different wines at a time. Once a customer has signed up to its pre-paid card, customers can set about sampling the wines of offer by the glass swiping their card to make purchases. While enomatic wine machines are common in London, particularly at independent retailers such as The Sampler, this is the first chain, to the best of my knowledge, to stretch the concept to a bar. Wine By One is swanky but restrained, offering the perfect setting for a quiet drink in a relaxed and informal setting.
Wine by One, 27 rue de Marignan, 75008