Quaffing wine history at center in Bordeaux

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The Center for Wine and Civilizations under construction last fall. It opens on June 2.
The Center for Wine and Civilizations under construction last fall. It opens on June 2. Photo Credit: Mark Edward Harris

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and in the James Bond movie "Diamonds Are Forever," wine knowledge (or the lack thereof) seals the fate of two henchmen posing as cruise-ship crew members.

After ordering a Mouton Rothschild, Bond remarks, "The wine is quite excellent, although for such a grand meal I had rather expected a claret."

"Of course," one of the men replies. "Unfortunately, our cellar's rather poorly stocked with clarets."

Bond: "Mouton Rothschild is a claret."

Those Bond villains could have used something like the Center for Wine and Civilizations, which will open its doors, and some of its highly prized bottles, in Bordeaux, France, on June 2.

The museum will use 20 themed spaces, the majority of which are interactive, to educate visitors about the 7,500-year history of wine around the world, the differences between grape varietals and how a grape becomes an intoxicating beverage.

In addition, the center will be a place to analyze and help shape the present and future of the wine industry.

Visitors will use personal digital guides that will detect the wearer's position within the exhibition space and play the appropriate multimedia content in one of eight languages (French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Japanese or Chinese).

Chateau Mouton Rothschild, located in the village of Pauillac in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, produces one of the world's great red wines. Not knowing that the English often refer to Bordeaux wine as a claret resulted in the impostors being deftly tossed overboard by 007.

While the consequences for not understanding what is in a given 750ml bottle are not as severe off the big screen, a basic knowledge of wine as well as its history gleaned from an exploration of the center could lead to a much deeper appreciation of and experience with the noble grape.

Officials estimate that the center will attract more than 450,000 visitors per year. This new wine tourism hub will potentially prolong the stay of visitors to a city that in 2014 said bienvenue to over 5 million guests.

Those numbers are sure to increase when a new high-speed train line puts Bordeaux, the undisputed world capital of wine culture and a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2007, just a two-hour journey away from Paris when it's completed in 2017.

Visit www.laciteduvin.com/en.

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