November 29, 2016


It was a brisk, dark evening in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, but from inside a shop with wooden floors and beams on the ceiling, lights beckoned.

The lights … were in the shape of wine bottles. And so began the introduction to Thierry Givone’s “Wine Tasting in Paris”, a company that partners with WICE to offer courses in appreciating and recognizing different kinds of wine.

Thierry Givone pours a Beaujolais.
On this particular night, Nov. 18, Givone focused on the Beaujolais region for a course that comprised tasting seven very different wines, including two types of Beaujolais Nouveau. This is of course the most known wine from the area located just south of Burgundy, and the course took place a day after its official release and national fete, with people filling cafés for a glass or two.

In fact, much of the Gamay wine that Beaujolais produces is sold and drunk before the harvest year is over. But what can be confusing to new drinkers is the disconnect between Beaujolais’ image and the taste of its top wines – whose producers aren’t too enamoured of the stereotypical representation, Givone hinted. 

So, along with the “nouveau”, WICE members got to sample a Julienas and two surperb Morgons, among others. They additionally learned about the producing region, its history, and the kind of grape involved (gamay).

Givone describes the region.
“For me, it’s an interest and a passion,” Givone said of the initiative he launched two-and-a-half years ago, after working for 20 years in marketing. “I hope those who participate in the course will develop this passion too, and remember everything that I explain to them.”

His wine-tasting “school” consists of a shop-cum-office decorated with neatly stacked bottles of wine and publications about the beverage. Light-hued wooden floors and dark beams on the ceiling add to the cosy atmosphere in the room reserved for tasting, where course participants sit on high stools at a long wooden table. Buckets are there for those who wish to spit out the wine after tasting.

“I never spit out good wine,” commented one course participant, and indeed some of the wines presented were excellent, totally "unspittable". Most members agreed that only one – a Beaujolais Nouveau – was not up to scratch. With its candy-sweet taste and artificial aroma, it was “not at all recommended”, Givone said frankly.

WICE member Tracey samples the wine.
In contrast, participants were soon raving about an organic Beaujolais cru (superior wine) from the small region of Regnié, and about a Morgon that was produced at one of the best vineyards in the area, located 350 meters above sea level. Givone said the latter could be kept for up to 10 years.

“It’s a spicy, peppery, full-bodied wine with great aging potential,” he told participants, teaching them the vocabulary as well for describing the wine. He also offered saucisson (sausage) and bread as accompaniment to the wines, apparently a perfect combination for Beaujolais.

The nibbles were a welcome idea, because after tasting, and swallowing, sips from seven bottles of wine on an empty stomach, the average person could become quite light-headed, not to mention light-hearted. In fact, at least one participant had to resist the temptation to giggle all the way home (via public transportation, naturally).

Givone is one of two instructors that partner with WICE for a wide range of wine-tasting sessions, and each has different approaches to the world of wine, according to Andrew Hunt, the director of WICE’s Living in France section.

“We hope participants will benefit from the knowledge that the instructors impart and from the joy of tasting different wines each month,” Hunt said. "Cheers!"

The next wine-tasting courses take place on Dec. 1 and 16, focusing on champagne – how to pair it with foie gras and how to appreciate the full “bubbly” experience. For registration information: and

Thierry Givone with WICE members after the wine-tasting course.