A Beginner’s Guide to French Wine Regions

We’ve all stood in front of the “France” section in a wine store, picking up bottles from different regions and hoping the store clerk doesn’t ask us what it is we’re looking for.

Wine Folly understands how overwhelming French wine can seem when you haven’t had the opportunity to learn much about it. This video is a primer on the 330 appellations, or wine regions, which are controlled by a regulatory board that monitors how grapes are grown and later produced into wine. The weather and soil differences between regions can dramatically change the taste of even the same type of grape, so you’re going to want to know which regions match the flavors you like.

Advertisement

In the South of France, Languedoc-Roussillon and the Rhone Valley which produce mainly red wine blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, while Provence makes some of the best rosés, which contain a lot of the acidic green Rolle, or Vermentino, grapes.

In Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot reign supreme. But you’ll want to go to Burgundy for earthy Pinot Noir, fruity Gamay Noir, and a classic Chardonnay. It’ll be the Loire Valley for Cabernet Franc from Chinon, sparkling and still Chenin Blanc in Vouvray, and lovely acidic Sauvignon Blanc.

Moving up to the colder North, you’ll end up in Alsace for the white wine blends Pinot d’Alsace and Gentil/Edelzwicker (which goes great with Chinese food). And of course, you can’t forget Champagne for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, which blends different grapes into fantastic white-style wines.

Want to learn more? Check out the Wine Folly Essential Guide.