Wine is one of the most iconic products of France. For centuries, wine culture has been ingrained in French heritage.
Today, France is the second largest wine producer in the world, just behind Italy.
In this article, we will introduce you to everything you need to know about French wines.
Main grape varieties and wine regions of France
France is famous for its grape varieties and wine regions.
The main grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.
Each French wine region has its own specialty. For example, the Bordeaux region is famous for its red wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while Burgundy is known for its Pinot Noir.
There are 17 wine regions in France, each with unique characteristics.
Here is a list of the main wine regions in France:
- Bordeaux region
- Bourgogne (Burgundy region )
- Loire Valley
- Champagne region
- Rhône Valley
- Languedoc-Roussillon region
- Provence region
Useful wine vocabulary
There are some vocabulary terms you should know before exploring French wines. Here are some examples:
- Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC): a quality label that guarantees the origin and quality of a wine.
- Cru: a term used to describe the best wines of a region.
- Millésime: the year of grape harvest used to produce the wine.
- Terroir: the unique geographic and climatic conditions that influence the taste and character of a wine.
- Cépage (Grape variety): the type of grape used to produce the wine (e.g., Chardonnay, Pinot Noir).
- Vinification (Winemaking): the process of transforming grapes into wine.
- Tannins: compounds present in the skin and seeds of grapes that give a rough or astringent sensation in the mouth.
- Bouquet: the set of aromas in a wine, including notes of fruit, spices, and wood.
- Cuvée: the wine produced from a blend of grapes from different varieties, plots, or vintages.
- Robe: the color of a wine.
- Nez (Nose): the aromas perceived by the nose when smelling the wine.
- Palais (Palate): the sensations perceived in the mouth, such as flavor, texture, and acidity.
- Fût de chêne (Oak barrel): a wooden container used to age wine and give it vanilla and spice aromas.
- Bouchonné (Corked): a wine that has a taste and smell of cork due to contamination by a chemical called TCA (trichloroanisole).
Etiquette and good manners for wine tasting
When tasting wine in France, it’s important to follow some etiquette and good manners rules. Here are some tips to follow:
- Hold the glass by the stem to avoid warming the wine.
- Look at the wine’s color to determine its age and quality.
- Smell the wine to detect the aromas.
- Taste the wine and let it rest on your tongue to appreciate all the flavors.
- Don’t forget to pay attention to food/cheese and wine pairings to fully enjoy your tasting.
Wine is an important part of French culture.
If you’re interested in exploring French wines, it’s important to know the main grape varieties and wine regions. Additionally, some vocabulary terms and etiquette rules will help you fully appreciate your tasting.
Enjoy discovering French wines!