For an emblematic establishment that costs 81 million euros to build, old winepresses and time-worn equipment are the last things one can expect to see in this one-of-a-kind wine museum. Situated in the heart of Bordeaux, one of France’s greatest wine regions, is La Cité du Vin, the world’s first wine theme park. The grand structure, which spans an exhibition space of over 3,000 sqm, commands attention even from afar. Encased in aluminum and glass panels, the museum has been molded to resemble a movement—that of wine swirling in a glass—rather than a shape.

The smart and stylish design extends within its walls with three state-of-the art tasting rooms that will involve all of the senses. There’s the aroma room, where visitors can actually smell various scents of wine through a trumpet horn pump; the 50-seat boat that interactively recreates the feel of being on a wine merchant’s voyage over several centuries; and the room where a virtual panel discussion among winemakers, farmers, sommeliers, and chefs takes place.

It is a hub of information on the history of wine, viticulture, enology, hospitality, pairing, and everything else to do with this liquid gold, presented in ways where guests will be fully entertained and engaged. One can learn about each grape variety, the type of soil that dictates a successful or failed harvest, the bottling process, the aesthetic behind each chateau’s labels, the people that helped in the evolution of this beverage into one of the most coveted commodities in the world today, and even the music made by wine enthusiasts through time.

La Cité du Vin also makes many vineyards accessible to those who lack the time to visit Bordeauxs famed chateaux by hosting wine tasting events on site. It also provides the chance for visitors to interactively visit different wine regions from all over the world. Guests can listen to the masters from as far back as the Middle Ages speak of wine’s pivotal role in their economy and way of life, and how its position as an “object of desire” for hundreds of centuries by many cultures has helped change major aspects in gastronomy.

The contemporary museum is above all a child-friendly center that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. One will see children’s merchandise with a quick stop at Le Boutique. Parents can even take books and sit and read to their kids about the history of wine through the eyes of a child.

Making the experience complete and memorable is the Belvedere, a sky bar where guests can sample a wide and well-curated selection of wines from around the globe while enjoying the 360-degree view of beautiful Bordeaux. And on the way out is a cellar and snack bar called Latitude 20, where people can purchase bottles that range from popular brands to rare ones like the Auxerrois Blanc from Luxembourg, which is not easily available.

La Cité du Vin is nothing short of a wine wonderland. It is a place that all ages and cultures will find interesting, interactive, and informative, giving a new and more accurate definition to wine appreciation.

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