Time to Stock the Cellar? Four Ways to Find the Best French Wines

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UPDATED 3/24/21

For wine aficionados, it’s no secret that the world’s best wines come from France. French wines, an industry generating $4.62 billion in annual revenue, according to The Connexion, have long since taken their place as the best beverages to go with a fine meal, a dinner party, or a night alone with a book. Of course, French wines didn’t always enjoy the dominance that they do today.

It was the Ancient Greeks and Romans, according to About.com, who were responsible for laying the roots of wine culture in what was then called Gaul. In the mid-400’s CE, the Catholic Church took over production of Gaul’s wineries, and enjoyed dominance as the number one producer of fine wines for 1400 years. With the French Revolution of the late 18th century, however, wine making moved with the people of France to Chablis, Burgundy and Champagne.

With their variety of AOC wines, wines that are legally tied to a specific region, French wines are sought internationally as the perfect accompaniment to any situation. Champagne, a wine created in and officially sanctioned as an AOC of Champagne France, is one such famous region-specific wine. Whether you are looking for Champagne or the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay based bouquets of Burgundy, here’s how to find the perfect wine for your taste and occasion.

  1. Taste It with All Senses: The only real way to know which French wines you like is by taste. However, as Wine Enthusiast suggests, tasting French wines, from Chassagne-Montrachet or Chablis, requires you to taste them with all of your senses. Before you drink the wine, smell it. Don’t sniff it as you would food; rather, allow the scent to waft into your nose and settle, sorting its characteristics out on its own. After you’ve properly smelled it, then you may taste the wine. To discern the deepest flavors, be sure to savor the taste.
  2. Consider the Occasion: Certain wines are associated with different occasions. If you’re celebrating something, go with the classic Champagne. On the other hand, relaxation requires something with a mellow, fuller flavor; a Burgundy wine made out of the region’s pure Pinot Noir grapes will best suit such an occasion.
  3. Consider the Accompaniments: The general rule of thumb for pairing wine with food, as Serious Eats writes, is that red wine goes with meat and white wine with fish. However, pairing wine is much more complex than that. For instance, certain wines work better with certain cheeses. Beaufort works well with a Chablis, Brie de Meaux will truly open up with a quality Bourgogne or Champagne. Do your research to find the best French wines for your favorite dishes.
  4. Where Does It Come From: Whenever you’re searching for the best French wines, you need to be sure to consider where it came from. If the bottle says it’s a Bourgogne and it doesn’t come from Burgundy, then it’s not a true Bourgogne. Likewise, if you’re looking for a Champagne and the bottle says it’s from the States, it’s not a real Champagne. While you might consider this trivial, the fact is, as Bourgogne-wines.com suggests, the specific climate and soil of each region of France that produces those wines plays a huge part in making them taste the way they’re meant to.

Whether you’re trying to pick out wines to stock in your cellar or you’re looking for something to serve at your next dinner, keep these four things in mind to find the best French wines. Doing so, you can find the very best flavor for every occasion.

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French Wine Not For You? Try California Vineyard Tours for Something New

When you are a big fan of wine, it can be fascinating to know more about how wine gets made as well as to see the places where it gets made. Wine creation is something like an art form for many wineries, and they often gives tours of the grounds so that people can see more about where their wine comes from and how it gets made. If you have ever been interested in wineries and winemaking, there are many California vineyard tours that allow people to see behind the scenes of real, working wineries.

When you want to go on a California wine tasting trip, try to book several in the same area so that you can see, taste and learn a lot about different wines. A winery like the Barefoot wine company can be a great way to spend a few hours getting to know more about wine. If you would rather find near wine that is closer to where you live, there are vineyards across the country from one side to the other. It is possible to get into tours of various wineries in many different areas of the country for a broad look at winemaking today.

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