Buying Wine/Champagne in France

May 8th, 1999, 04:51 PM
  #1  
Lori
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Buying Wine/Champagne in France

Leaving for Paris in 2 weeks and would like to buy some wine and/or champagne while there. Does anyone know any good wine shops in Paris? Is it cheaper in a wine shop or the duty free shop in the airport? Does anyone know what the US duty is after exceeding the 2 liter per couple limit? Any insight anyone can give me would be greatly appreciated. I also intend to visit Riems for 1 day. Is it better to buy champagne at the champagne houses or not? Thanks!!!!!!
 
May 10th, 1999, 09:37 AM
  #2  
cherie
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Unless you are quite skilled in vintner nuance terminology in the French language you might find it difficult to purchase specific wines while in France. We stopped in a Wine Shop in Tours and the owner and my husband went on about the characteristics of Bonnezeaux and eventually came out with what he was looking for but not before the shopkeeper brought out much cheaper products first. We find it easier to obtain even Chinon and Montlouis and Bonnezeaux in wine shops with good importers here in US. Theres a particularly good one in Sacramento; I know of ones in Washington DC, New York, etc. If you are looking for some fun and a nice souvernir, however, try it.
 
May 10th, 1999, 10:38 AM
  #3  
elaine
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in guidebooks I have often seen recommendations for
Le Cave Ange, 116 bd Haussmann in the 8th. The owner speaks English.

Keep in mind that shipping charges are very high, and there can be customs charges as well. It really only makes sense to buy it there if you find a very special vintage and want to buy a case or two. All the major champagne houses export to the US.

Wine and liqueurs are cheaper in duty free shops, but you'll not have the selection or expert advice regarding the wines.
 
May 10th, 1999, 11:13 AM
  #4  
wes fowler
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Lori,
It's rare to find a wine bargain in France. (Perhaps you can settle for a jar or two of pate.) As an alternative, consider this: France has 14 secondary schools that train young people how to plant, grow, ferment, age and bottle wine. There is such a school in Beaune, just south of Dijon. It is the Lycee Viticole, 16 Avenue Charles Jaffelin. There, the students plant vines on the same hillsides, in the same soil, with the same sun as the major vintners. From 8 AM to noon and 2PM to 5:30 (closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday) you can taste and purchase the excellent, relatively inexpensive wines made by the students as part of their studies. Cellar visits are also possible. There are free 2 1/2 hour guided tours (in French) on certain Saturday mornings at 9:30 AM. Telephone 03 80 26 35 81 for details and to find the addresses of similar schools in the Champagne area of France.

 
May 10th, 1999, 11:40 AM
  #5  
Santanu
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I brought back 3 bottles of champagne that I bought at a Nicholas, a franchise wine/alcohol store, in Paris. I just bought names I know: Moet, Perrier-Juet, and a rose I wanted to try.

As for duty, the only thing I know is that after $400 worth of merchandise, there is a flat 10% tax. But in Newark, customs was just letting everyone through.
 
May 10th, 1999, 02:32 PM
  #6  
gregoire
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Lori,
If you are in a big town in France, you should be able to find a Nicolas to sell you a broad choice of wines on a large range of prices. You might want to try the french yello pages :
www.pageszoom.com/wjpm_pages_jaunes.cgi
Put the following in the field "activite" (include the semicolon) :
vins et spiritueux (vente au détail) ;
Choose with or without web, Paris as the "localite" and departement 75.
You can refine your search, for instance putting 75006 if you are in the 6th district -that way you'll get those near your place.
Most shops will provide equal quality, price and service, even though every french person would look for "Nicolas", which is the only chain that I know of in that business, just because it's a name we know. You can use it to refine your search too, they are just as good as any other.
And don't feel embarassed by the fact you don't know anything : very little people actually know. At least don't feel ashamed, or impressed. I was only impressed by one person, who could guess which wine came from where in the world, soil, year, etc... It happened to be an uncle of mine, and ww championship of wine taster. I could survive without it, even though it's an interesting person to met. I am myself a grand-sun of a wine maker in the Loire valley, I don't think any of my cousins know anything about wines. Still, we do enjoy it a lot, and deem wine as a major part of our culture !
Now if I want to be "chauvin" (I don't know the american word, just means too proud of it's origin), I have to tell you that champagne is made in an area where they could not grow good wine, so they put bubbles inthere, and sold it as a luxorious product, instead of poor wine. As a matter of fact, I don't like it, and prefer what is called "mousseux" : it's similar, but no as bitter, and the grappe processing is more natural. but this is still a french guy being too french... Still, I wouldn't buy French champagne, you have god enough ones in america, so concentrate on wine.
 
May 10th, 1999, 03:20 PM
  #7  
John
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You could try the supermarkets. They have some good buys. Also, a recent Travel channel show had a wine expert on and he indicated that the extra duty after the 2 bottle limit was something like $0.20 per bottle. I don't know how this jibes with the supposedly 10% flat duty above $400, unless the wine was only $2 per bottle! Perhaps it works out to $0.20 per bottle if you are below the $400 limit. I use to find some decent buys in the duty free shop, but the selection is less. I never found the same wine cheaper in the US, but you can only carry so many bottles back with you.
 
May 10th, 1999, 03:29 PM
  #8  
Helen
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John, as I recall it, the duty on alcohol actually comprises two taxes: the duty, which is assessed according to the value of the item, and an Internal Revenue/excise tax (not sure of the precise terminology), based on the alcohol content. I would be interested to know what happens in practice, when the bottles are below the $400 limit, but over the alcoholic beverage allowance. It may be that the custom inspector's hands are tied, and the the latter tax has to be assessed once you go over the limit. There seems to be wide latitude on the part of the inspectors to let things go, especially at the busier airports. It's not clear from reading the brochure "Know Before You Go", which I read a while back on the Customs Service's web site (it's part of Treasury, for those who want to look for it.) It's true what the expert said -- the non-duty part of the tax on wine is minimal. But as I recall years back, Customs at JFK would assess both kinds of tax on bottles over the allowance, even if you had spent
less than $400 total.
 
May 10th, 1999, 04:08 PM
  #9  
elaine
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Note to gregoire

Our word in English is
chauvinist (nom) or
chauvinistic (adjectif)

Guess which language we took the word from?!
 
May 11th, 1999, 06:56 AM
  #10  
gregoire
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Elaine,
I'm really wondering...
 
May 11th, 1999, 07:11 AM
  #11  
John
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Thanks, Helen. I never knew there was an IRS tax and a duty. I guess the expert was referring to the IRS tax. If you have to pay 10% extra duty on a $50 bottle of wine it would be $5 extra which dosen't seem bad if it is a special bottle.
 

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