French Wine: The Basics

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Can one imagine the world of wine without France? Of course not! That would be akin to a portrait of the theater without the Bard, or baseball without Wrigley Field, or music without the Beatles, or TV cookery without Rachel Ray – oh wait – I’ll take that please.

France gives it all in the world of wine offering standards in red, white, sweet, and sparkling wines. Champagne alone would be enough to warrant endless praise, but France also gives us the deep reds of Bordeaux, the ponderous reds & whites from Burgundy, amazingly expressive wines from the Rhone, and captivating whites from Loire and Alsace. Beyond its own bounty, France has given its native grapes to winemakers of the New World. Again, try to imagine the wineries of the US, Australia, New Zealand, and South America without Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. Despite having their great varietals co-opted by upstart winemakers and nations, France has not raised the white flag. Their wines continue to evolve to meet a changing marketplace while expanding promising vineyard lands in the south and southwest. The history of French wine, albeit extensive, is hardly written in stone.