Friday, October 25, 2013

How-To: Pick a French Wine

If you are used to New World wines, French wine labels can be uninformative. Instead of listing the varietals (grapes) used, French winemakers expect you to know what you are getting based on the region of origin. So if you have a favorite grape, it's important to know the approved grapes for any region of France:

  • Red: Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc (and typically a blend of all three)
  • White: Mostly Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc
  • Red: Pinot Noir from the most prestigious producers, Gamay from Beaujolais
  • White: From Chablis, the Chardonnay grape is common
  • Sparkling: A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
  • Red: Syrah or Grenache
  • White: Viognier or Muscat
  • Red: Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir
  • White: Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc
  • Alsace is the only region of France that typically labels the bottle with the varietal

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