A Guide To Exploring France Through 5 Major Wine Varieties

Whether you're a wine lover or interested in France, you can't separate these two elements. Wines and France are synonymous for a reason. Steeped in history and culture, French wine can be served with nearly any kind of meal and plays a part in almost all of its history.

To help you understand both better, here's a guide to the major wine regions of France and what they mean for you.

Bordeaux. Only with Champagne will you find a region more synonymous with wine production. Due to a favorable location near the port, Bordeaux became famous early in wine history. Bordeaux wine is generally broken down into more specific appellations reflecting the regions of its production — such as Medoc, Saint Emilion, or Graves — or even smaller areas like Sauternes or Barsac. Bordeaux wines are generally a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 

Burgundy. Landlocked Burgundy is home to vintages generally made from Pinot Noir grapes (and Chardonnay grapes for white wine). Pinot Noir grapes are generally lighter and less tannic than other red varieties, so it's a good beginner's wine. Burgundy vintages are coveted not because of a particularly unique grape but because of the strong sense of location and culture — its "terroir". 

Champagne. What would toasts be without the Champagne region of France? This effervescent drink has come to symbolize fun, celebration, and romance throughout the Western world. Each champagne producer has their own philosophy regarding the production of this luxury favorite, but you will generally find "brut" varieties to be drier and crisper while Prosecco is dry and fruity. 

Cognac. Based around a single French town, cognac is a singular experience for French wine lovers. Distilled from grapes, it may bear more resemblance to whiskey than to wine. Like many spirits, it is aged in oak casks and opened after an extended period of time between two years and a decade. You'll find excellent aperitifs here as well as other distillations. 

Provence. Provence is an excellent choice for lovers of rosé wine. Its history with winemaking goes back more than 2,000 years, so growers know what they're doing. While you can get excellent red wines as well, more than half of the wine produced here will be a rosé variety.

Ready to start exploring France by trying and developing new favorite wine vintages? There's more than enough wine for sale to keep any oenophile busy for many years to come.