Every country is best known for something that plays an important role in portraying their culture and tradition. Wine is one such thing in France.
In order to understand the depths and origin of French wine, a lot of things are taken into consideration. To put you out of this mystery, we shall provide a basic overview of French wine.
Where did this all start?
France has the richest and interesting wine history. For centuries, many European countries were under the rule of the Roman Empire.
It was during this time that the Romans found a lot of suitable regions to cultivate vineyards. Later, the natives incorporated many techniques adding their own innovations.
Christianity played a huge role in expanding the French wine map. At the early stages, many vineyards were maintained by the Church for the Holy Sacrament. The acres of land grew with the power and influence of the Church.
With a lot of monasteries around France, monks started to take part in the wine preparation. They made many discoveries that account for the astonishing quality of the wine till today. The art of winemaking was later spread and taught to different parts of Europe.
Thus, wine became a significant part of the French even after Roman rule. Amidst a lot of complications, France has developed a special relationship with wine owing to its terroir and flavor of grapes.
Wine categorization in France
A French wine label carries a lot of information. The French government established the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system to separate regions and the types of grapes grown. The French wine is categorized to indicate quality and provenance.
1. Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system: The Grand cru and Premier cru fall into the AOC system. This is the highest category and follows strict regulations to exhibit a level of quality and style in the production of wine.
2. Vin de pays: It refers to the “country wines”. This category focuses on the geographical location of the wine.
3. Vin de France: This is the lowest category for French wine. The region or place is not mentioned in their labels and they can be produced from any grape varieties in France.
What makes the French wine so special?
With more than 50 countries in wine production, France still stands as the best winemaker in the world. Besides being a perfect accompaniment to French cuisine and a representation of culture, what makes the French wine so special?
The quality of the wine is at its best because of its suitable environment, weather conditions, best grape varieties, and their adaptation to the soil. The French follow a regulated system in wine production and categorization.
The type of wine depends on the region in which it was cultivated. Each region provides its own variety of wine that is unique and special.
Types of French wine
With a sheer volume of wine varieties, we can get a little perplexed at times in identifying the types and names attached to each wine. So, why don’t we sort it out together?
Wine is generally made from two types of grapes: white grapes and black grapes. There are over a hundred varieties of white and black grapes that are used to make different types of wines.
French wine is predominantly classified into five types of wines. They are red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, rosé wine, and dessert wines.
1. White wine
This style of wine is produced from both black and white grapes. It has bright, savory, and creamy flavors. Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Moscato are popular French white wines.
2. Red wine
Red wine is produced from black grapes. It is filled with rich flavors such as blackberries, cherries, chocolate, cranberry, plum, etc. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah are the most popular red wines.
3. Rosé wine
It displays an aromatic profile with fruity and floral aromas of citrus, white flowers, and herbs. Rosé is also produced by mixing red and white wines together at times.
4. Sparkling wine
It contains a high level of carbon dioxide which accounts for the fizz. It is also called Champagne. A good sparkler produces a fresh and fruity taste.
5. Dessert wine
As the name suggests, dessert wines are fortified wines with spirits that are used in desserts. It is characterized by a well-balanced combination of sweetness and acidity.
Famous wine regions in France
As discussed earlier, the taste and quality of wine vary in different regions. Therefore, it is important to understand the distinguishing characteristics of winemaking in each region to find out what we prefer.
Bordering Switzerland and Germany, Alsace is one of the historical regions in France. This beautiful region mainly produces white wines. Unlike other vineyards, all the wines are named after the grape varieties instead of the terroir.
The Vosges mountains act as a natural barrier to protect their vineyards. Climatic conditions play a huge role in the quality of the wine produced in this region.
Bordeaux is one of the largest wine-producing regions in France. A great variety of red wines, white wines, rosés, and sparkling wines are produced in this region. Cabernet and Merlot are the popular grape varieties of this region. It is also popular for its famous wine desserts.
This region is known for its sparkling wines produced from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties. The wine takes its name after the region and is often associated with luxury.
Most people see it as a sign of celebration. The Champagne produced here sets a benchmark for its combination of freshness, richness, and delicacy.
A combination of dry red wine and white wine is produced in this region. The main wine regions within Burgandy are Chablis, Côte d’Or, Beaujolais, and Mâconnais. Burgundy has over 400 different types of soil which makes its wine unique from one vineyard to another.
5. Rhone Valley
Rhone Valley is one of the most diverse wine regions in France. Syrah, a dark-skinned grape variety is popular in this region. It provides red wines from Syrah and white wine from Marsanne and Rousanne. The complexity of the soil and climate adds a unique taste to the wines of this region.
Situated in the southeast of France, Provence is characterized by its rosé wine. Occasionally, it also produces powerful red and aromatic white wines. Mourvèdre is the main grape variety of this region.
7. Loire Valley
The wines from this region tend to be light and refreshing. It is the second-largest producer of sparkling wine. This region is filled with different types of grape varieties and an incredible range of wines to choose from. The most popular wines are Sancerre, Chenin Blancs, and Muscadet.
Home of fine wine
The art of winemaking has been carried in France for generations. Over the years, the French have been known for their highly regulated and influential wines in the world.
After all the above analyses, it is clear that France has been the home for producing fine wine and our cultural journey wouldn’t be complete without understanding the flavorful world of French wines.