During my travels around the storied Bordeaux wine region last week, I had the opportunity to visit La Cité du Vin, a new wine museum that opened last year in the beautiful city of Bordeaux. It impressed me so much, I spent almost three hours there, but I could have easily spent another three. There is fascinating information for wine aficionados, novices, experts, non-drinkers, and even children to experience via brilliant technology and digital works of art. The museum incorporates multiple cutting edge interactive exhibits that engages multilingual visitors, seamlessly teaching everything there is to know about wine. La Cité du Vin focus is not only French wines but highlights some of the most important wine producing countries in the world and their storied wine regions. The exhibits achieve this through a combination of interactive maps, 3D photos, interviews of famous winemakers and digital books that explain each regions’ terroir, grape varieties, wine styles and other cultural aspects.
The visual and audio aspects of the museum captivate visitors in an array of intriguing installations. There are special spaces where one can sit at a dining table to learn about wine pairings and etiquette while looking at a hologram of a famous chef or master of wine sitting across from them. The museum also has a fantastic area showcasing the aromas, textures, colors, etc. that are found in wines. In this section, you truly get a lesson on how to train your nose to decipher the various notes (aromas and flavors) in wine. There are intricate and artfully decorated glass bubbles, connected to brass pumps that expel the smell of leather, wet paper, mint, pencil shavings, etc. It’s an olfactory experience meant to train one’s nose to recognize these similar aromas and flavors when wine tasting.
In another section of the museum, the story of wine is told as a fable, with incredible animations and special effects. On the day I was there, young teenagers sat listening and watching, consumed by the story. I was struck by the thought of how museums like this in other parts of the world would spin the words “educated wine consumer” to another level. Talk about a way to get young people to really appreciate wine. This is it.
Because La Cité du Vin’s installations are so digitally and technologically focused the actual content of the museum is highly transportable. I can imagine a massive World Tour of La Cité du Vin. The information they have put together is so informative I could see other wine regions reaping the benefits of growing a more educated customer base and really benefit from influencing the non-drinking youth. Wine has a secret weapon that no other alcoholic beverage or any other product for that matter has… an amazing and historic culture with lots to explore.