Opened in 2016, the swirly metal contemporary design of the Bordeaux Museum of Wine celebrates a tradition that goes back thousands of years. You may have heard that it is the best wine museum in the world and it really is. Recommended by friends with children similar in age to ours to go to the wine museum Bordeaux was known for because their kids loved it. In this wine museum Bordeaux France really has created an eclectic edutainment-focussed explanation of wine and its culture. You learn so much about wine and viniculture at the Bordeaux museum of wines that you don’t even realise you are learning.
The Bordeaux Museum of Wine Bar & Restaurant
Entry into the Musueum of Wine gives you a free glass of wine which you can pick up on the top floor bar. With thumping French club museum, the bar was clearly going for atmosphere. On the other hand, the bar has great views. The queues were long at the bar so we decided not to bother with our free glass and headed to the Cité du Vin restaurant.
The next floor down is the Cité du Vin restaurant which is a nice place to have a glass of wine. The Cite du Vin restaurant is open all day from breakfast through dinner. We heard there were better dining options than the Cité du Vin restaurant but that we should go there for a drink for the fabulous views.
There is indeed a whole lot of choices on the menu at the Cité du Vin restaurant. We were a little surprised that many of the wines were local Bordeaux but that is part of the whole world wine experience. Moreover, you would think that since we were paying, La Cite du Vin restaurant would have been a better experience. No, the service was abysmal.
What did we learn? There are better places in Bordeaux than the Museum of Wine for the experience of drinking wine.
The Permanent Galleries At The Wine Museum Bordeaux
The actual Wine Museum Bordeaux is an elevator ride back down to the ground floor from the elevator bank that holds the Cité du Vin restaurant. You ascend via a staircase. to a series of 19 permanent exhibits spread out amongst a spacious 3000 sq.m. which are frankly … fascinating.
We thought we would spend a couple of hours at the Bordeaux museum of wines. Wrong, We were there until they pretty much closed the doors behind us.
The Wine Museum Bordeaux France Educational Aspects
The very first exhibit at the City of Wine Bordeaux will underscore that this is a museum about world wine. Bordeaux may be the wine capitol of the world but this wine museum in Bordeaux is celebrating wine on a global scope. Large screen televisions take you on an aerial view of different vineyards around the world. Frankly, the global vineyard tour was mesmerising – the variety, the scale, the adaptations to the local climates and landscape – who knew?
What did we learn at the wine museum in Bordeaux? Lots. The history of the barrel process, fermentation, the different types of wine, the different types of terroir etc.
My favourite exhibit at the Bordeaux museum of wines had to be the Buffet of the Senses. Large dining tables were filled with glass cloche-type jars were you got to sniff the different aromas of both red and white wine.
I was also surprised to learn that there’s actually some white wine that looks red!
Even with all the emphasis on the global aspects of wine culture, you do learn a lot about Bordeaux and its wine regions.
There are some exhibits at the museum of wine Bordeaux that are not appropriate for children. Well above a child’s visual height, there are exhibits like peep shows where you can see wine and erotica.
A Wine Museum in Bordeaux for the Digital Age
And, none of it was boring because the City of Wine Bordeaux has embraced a digital and interactive experience whole-heartedly.
Even better? None of the exhibits were very long. You had options where you could spend longer but you didn’t need to. Perfect for our short-attention span world. You could easily flit between exhibits like a butterfly punch drunk on spring nectar.
One of the coolest features at the City of Wine Bordeaux is a smartphone device which is freely given to every visitor. This deice translates the exhibits into your own language when you are near a hotspot.
Flights of Fancy at The City of Wine Bordeaux
Some of the exhibits at the Bordeaux museum of wine are more fanciful. This is a wine museum in France after all.
There’s a psychedelic movie where you recline back on a long sofa and snippets of the relationship between wine and love are played. You can explore how wine inspired great cultural works of art, literature etc.
Then the Bordeaux museum of wine takes on the concept of a dinner party. You get to sit inside an exhibit set up like a dinner party where the hologram attendees discuss the role of wine in things like celebrations or restaurants.
Some of the exhibits are eclectic and entertaining. There is a movie where Pliny the Elder, Thomas Jefferson, Louix XIV, Alfred Hitchock, Napoleon, Winston Churchill, Rabelais and Voltaire among others are discussing wine at a banquet. All those male egos in one room, thank goodness there was plenty of free flowing wine!
A Wine Theme Park Bordeaux
The Bordeaux Museum of Wine has been marketed as a wine theme park. Be careful how you interpret this as an English speaker. Yes, it’s a wine theme park in that it has attractions that are clearly along the wine theme.
On the other hand, unless I am on log flume plunging into a lake of Bordeaux along the lines of Splash Mountain at Disney, you have unnecessarily gotten my hopes up by calling it a wine theme park. The Bordeaux Museum of Wine is more a multi-media experience explaining wine and viniculture in highly effective and entertaining format.
A Wine Museum in Bordeaux for Design Lovers
The Bordeaux museum of wine building itself is also a cool design meant to look like a aluminium and glass wine swirl rising 180 feet high into the sky. Some people say the shape is supposed to be a wine decanter, others that it is a stalk of grapes. It’s definitely organic and curvaceous. The museum’s design is as audacious for the average staid museum goer as New York’s Guggenheim Museum would have been back in 1959.
The wine museum in Bordeaux is definitely recognisable from a distance! It cost £63 million and lies on the bank of the Garonne river. The Garonne was instrumental in turning Bordeaux into a wine-making powerhouse.
Before you leave, do check out the wine shop, Latitude20, which a is super circular design. It also stocks an amazing 800 varieties of wine (only 200 of them from France).
I knew I was going to be impressed by the City of Wine Bordeaux when I was fascinated by the design of the parking garage. It’s steel designed to look like the protective paper mesh that wraps bottles of wine.
Practical Information for the Bordeaux Museum of Wines
The museum is open every day during the tourist season from 10-7. It’s best to check on its website before you go. There is 7 floors of dedicated museum parking nearby and a tram runs right by the front.
The Bordeaux Museum of Wine has become a must-see attraction in Bordeaux in the couple of years that the museums been open. We went on a Saturday and the place was heaving. We stayed so long that the crowds cleared out by closing time. I would suggest you go early or late in the day to avoid the crush.
Everyday at 4:30 there is an English-language talk on Bordeaux wine at the Bordeaux Museum of Wine.
The address for the museum is 1 Esplanade du Pontiac, 33300 Bordeaux.
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