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I don’t know much about wine. I can tell the difference between a bad wine and a good wine, but I’m not sure I could tell between a good wine and a great wine — or it could be that I have yet to taste a truly great wine. I know that I tend to like aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Grüner Veltliner, and I tend to dislike reds with extremely high or low levels of tannins. But if you were to give me a Pinot noir, I wouldn’t be able to tell you whether it was from Bourgogne or the Jura or Alsace.

That’s why I love places like Ô Chateau. It’s a place where the curious can explore and ask questions and taste very good wine from all over France in a comfortable environment with — and this is the best part — educated, eloquent sommeliers to explain the differences and make sure you know what you’re drinking.

I first learned about Ô Chateau through Stuff Parisians Like, owner Olivier Magny’s blog. In those first few weeks in Paris, I felt so alien, so very un-Parisian, that I sought tips from other expats to help ease me into the life of this city, and Stuff Parisians Like came up often. It explains the habits of this city and its inhabitants with the deep knowledge of a native and the tongue-in-cheek good humor of a guy you’d probably want to hang out with.

The food is consistently quite good, but the wine is clearly the star of the show. I always get the “Decouverte” menu, a three-course meal with champagne to start and a generous pouring of a different wine with each course, expertly paired by one of the charming sommeliers. The menu changes weekly, and perfectly reflects whatever is in season at the moment.

If you are interested in learning to taste the differences in wines, without having to open three bottles at once, they also provide wine flights — for example, three Pinot noirs, all from different regions — so that, tasted next to each other, the terroir of each region jumps out at you. I have never disliked a wine here, and I’m sure if I did, my somm would offer to replace it for me.

Ô Chateau
68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1st)
Tél: 01 44 73 97 80

Music to eat by: If I Were A Bell [Oscar Peterson // Perfect Peterson]

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