The entire dining experience is taken very seriously in France. Not only do the French believe you should sit and enjoy your food, they also believe in having wine with lunch & dinner. In fact wine is one of the leading staples alongside bread and cheese when it comes to French cuisine. Perhaps that is why France is the leading wine producer throughout the world!
For those of you that are not wine connoisseurs, and are looking to understand French wine and how it is paired with the cuisine you are trying to replicate, we thought we’d break the French wine categories down for you and make it a bit simpler. That being said, French wine is organized into 4 different regions and 4 categories depending greatly on quality of the grapes used and production itself.
4 Categories Of Identifying Grape Quality
- Table Wine- the lowest on the grape quality spectrum but definitely still delicious to drink. Table Wine is for everyday use.
- Vin de Pays’- Similar to Table Wine but of a little higher quality
- Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure- this type of wine is from a specific region and contains high quality grapes
- Appellation d’origine Contrôlée- This is by far the crem dela creme of all wine. The AOC seal is in recognition of the highest quality of grape and French wine available
4 Different French wine Regions
- Bordeaux- This is mainly the region where Cabernets, Merlots, & Malbecs originate from. These wines are typically used in Bordelaise sauce which is made up of red wine, spices, and shallots.
- Cotes Du Rhone- This region is found in the South of France and is home to red grapes that make up Syrah’s & Grenaches. As well as white grapes that make up viognier & Roussance
- Burgundy- This particular region is best known for it’s white grapes that are found in Chardonnays and red grapes that are found in Pinot Noirs. Wine from the Burgundy region finds its way into La Bourguignonne sauce which are also comprised of baby onions and mushrooms
- Alsace- this region is found very close to Germany and thus has cooler temperatures than the rest of France and it’s wine regions. Because it is so close to the German border this region is influences a lot by Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer
Another fun fact and something your taste buds may thank you for is the fact that French Sauvignon Blancs are comparable to those from New Zealand. What exactly does this mean? If you are a Sauvignon Blanc drinker you may know that many people prefer New Zealand Sauv Blancs because of their grassy and grapefruit enhanced structure. If you are looking to find a Sauv Blanc with notes that differ a bit, but a wine that still stands up to its New Zealand relative try a French Sauv Blanc, we don’t think you will be disappointed!
The French appreciate wine and not only drink it with the majority of meals they also use it alot in sauces and other dishes. Get familiar with the different regions and find a couple wines from each that are within your budget and taste. Having a bit of understanding of what wines do for your French sauces and other dishes that call for them, will help you to replicate your chosen French dish and eating it will be that much more enjoyable!