Alexandre Martin

“Only imbeciles aren’t gourmands. One is a gourmand like he is an artist, like he is a poet. Taste is a delicate organ, perfectible and respectable like the eye or the ear.” Guy de Maupassant


The Art de vivre series offers a way of discovering three pillars of French culture, taken in the most general and immediate sense.
Led by specialists in their respective fields, these lectures, including tastings, will bring new understanding to the creation of high quality products in the tradition of French savoir-faire.


Alexandre Martin was born in Pessac, near Bordeaux, in 1972. After graduating with a degree in Russian from “Langues’O”—the National Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilizations in Paris—he completed a specialized training program in viticulture at the University of Montpellier.

In 2001 he started his career at the Paris Wine Museum, where he guided tours and held wine conferences, workshops, and tastings for a wide range of audiences. It was here that he improved his knowledge of traditional wine-making and cultivated his relationships with winemakers by visiting traditional French vineyards.

Bringing together his passion for oenology and history with his interest in linguistics, he continues to travel—especially to Central Europe and the Caucasus, where he has been studying the transformations of local vineyards in the context of privatization.

Based on his expertise, he has been invited to Russia several times.  He was first hired in Moscow, where he was appointed Head sommelier at Fauchon assigned with launching and running the cellar of their first gourmet store in Russia. He was later hired by Potel & Chabot to organize fine catering functions at prestigious venues in Saint-Petersburg for the promotion of the company’s wines and gastronomy.

In 2005 world-renowned author and wine specialist Jean Lenoir asked Martin to translate his famous publication Le Nez du Vin into Russian.  The reference book explains the characteristic aromas of different wines which helps readers’ appreciation of scents during tastings.

This task confirmed to Martin that sensory education and an understanding of the language of aromas are essential to developing skills for tasting and discussing wines.

When Martin got back to France, Jean Lenoir invited him to join his team and spread the Ecole du Nez, a special training program to allow an ever widening audience to become familiar with the world of wine and wine-making — the land, the know-how, the art of tasting — and its altogether fascinating culture.


The lectures are accompanied or followed by a wine tasting.

1 - Traditional Wine Making in France 
A 45-minute lecture followed by a tasting ; audience of up to 80 people.
Alexandre Martin will offer an introduction to and a historical overview of viticulture and winemaking in France (harvests, pruning, barrel-making). Wine is introduced as the “product of a civilization,” and as a stimulation of the sense of taste. The introduction is followed by a description of the main winemaking processes, in which Martin will reveal the secrets of the making of still (non-sparkling) white and red wines and for certain sweet, late harvested wines. He will also discuss the special process for making rosé wines, the alchemy behind brandies such as Cognac and Armagnac, and of course, the complex method for creating a very special wine : champagne.
Practical application: exercises in identifying the characteristic aromas derived from these different winemaking processes, followed by a tasting of 3 different wines selected for this learning purpose.

2 - Learning about French Winemaking Regions through the Lives of a Few Great Men 
A 45-minute lecture followed by a tasting ; audience of up to 80 people.
The “Lives of a few great men” provides an introduction to various French wine-producing regions and appellations. This geographic exploration is also a special opportunity to engage in some major gastronomic debates, such as meat and alcohol pairings, which have seen several changes over the course of time, and to understand the origins of the age-old, passionate feud and occasional truces between lovers of Bordeaux and of Burgundy.
Among the connoisseurs of French wines are President Thomas Jefferson, Rabelais, Henri IV, Dom Pérignon, Madame de Pompadour, Brillat-Savarin, Pasteur, Colette, Sir Winston Churchill, and others who have left us brilliant testimony of French wine culture.
Training: presentation, localization and aromatic characterization of a selection of crus praised by these ambassadors of the French “art de vivre”.

3 - Senses-Training Workshop: “Wine, Memory, and Language”
Lecture lasts 1.5 hour and is followed by olfactory training; groups of up to 20 persons.
This workshop is based on audience participation and is focused on educating the senses and teaching how describe in words what one smells.
Training participants to be sensitive to and remember smells enables participants to achieve a deeper, more personal appreciation of great wines. Each wine is approached as a quasi-art masterpiece and, thanks to Le Nez du Vin, can be broken down to 54 aromas falling into 5 major categories: floral, vegetal and spicy, fruity, animal, and woody notes. The goal of this workshop is to help participants to see great wines as major cultural artifacts—on a par with music or painting.
Practical information: The Ecole du Nez offers to provide, through its distributors in the United States, its aromatic boxes necessary for tastings. The sale of these sets can be organized after the conference. The details (including price, type, and number of sets desired) will be made available at a later day.

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Related Sites

  • Fondation Alliance Française
  • Alliance Française de Paris
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Federation of Alliance Française USA

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