Wine existed always. It was very popular in the ancient times and it is still nowadays. Winemaking is a prosperous business all over the world. However, France has always been associated with the winemaking more than the other countries. French winemakers are proud of this fact and their wine is valuable. Making not good but excellent wine requires, so to say, "savoir-faire" ("know-do") and experience. A winemaker is a creator, an artist, who draws a picture of taste. Here is a brief French wine guide.
The quality of wine depends on:
- The choice of the terroir.
- The climate and the date of harvest.
- The choice of the grape variety.
- The type of container in which the fermentation will take place.
- The temperature.
- The type of container in which the maturation will take place.
For people, who are not professionals in this sphere it is necessary to give an explanation of some specific words:
Terroir is a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same wine region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine.
Fermentation - a transformation of sugar into alcohol and carbonic gas.
Maturation - complex processes a wine goes through from the end of the fermentation, when it often tastes foul, to the time of drinking, when it should be superb. It embraces aging, bottling and blending.
Wines in France are categorized under the wine grades. Those wines are of higher quality. They are strictly ruled. Those rules cover methods of growing and producing, localization, grape-variety, minimum contents of alcohol.
1. Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) ("regulated wine of origin").
These wines of an excellent quality are analyzed and tasted.
2. Appellation d'Origine Vin De Qualite Superieure (AOVDQS) ("higher quality wine of origin").
In the hierarchy of wines, these come after the AOC. The "Institut National des Appellations d'Origine" (INAO) also strictly control them.
3. Vin de Pays ("country wine").
These wines contain 100% of a single grape-variety, approved and tasted by a "Conseil Interprofessionnel" (joint committee of professionals), grown in a strictly limited zone.
4. Vin de Table ("table wine ").
"Vin de Table" is the every day wine of France. It represents about seventy percent of French production.
If you are a fan of wine and interested in the winemaking, you should take a wine tour. Wine tours are gastronomic and oenological trips to the French wine regions. Travel packages include all accommodations, meals, visits to vineyards, transport. Mind that the travel season for the french wine regions is from May till October. If you have decided to do it, these are the main French wine regions: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Corsica, Cotes de Rhone, Languedoc, Roussillon, Loire Valley, Provence and South West.
Alsace produces excellent dry and sweet white wines. They are so typical that the grape varieties used only grow in Alsace and nowhere else.
Bordeaux is the most important wine producing region in France and in the world. It counts for one third of the good quality French wine. Burgundy wines are of velvety and subtle red or of sensual and characteristic white.
Corsica island, off the French South coast, is affectionately called "L'île de beaute" (The beautiful island). Certainly, the wines of this french wine region are delicious (subtle rose and dry white wines).Cotes de Rhone is probably the most diverse wine region in France. It produces red wines in the north, white and the fruity red wine in the south.
Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine region in the world. Its vineyards are one of the largest expanses of the vine growing region in the world. Languedoc-Roussillon region produces mainly red wines that are perfect as every day wines.
The Loire Valley is one of the famous Grench wine regions. It is a land of white wine though some red wines are very interesting.
Provence is known for its fresh and fruity rose wine.
Wines from the South-West have often been confused with Bordeaux wines. However, you must not conclude that those wines are of a lower quality. Nowadays, wines from the South West are of excellent quality for the value and should be recommended because of their unique personality, based on the local history and traditions.
This brief trip to the wine world of France will not make you an expert, however, certainly, French wine tours will make you feel more comfortable, when buying or ordering your next French wine.