Preview for French #Winophiles: Newcomer’s Guide to French Wine

How would you guide a friend through French wines at your favorite wine bar?

Introduce a Newcomer to French Wine
Imagine this: you and a friend enter a wine bar with an exceptionally deep and broad selection of By The Glass wines from around the world. Your friend tells you they would love to learn more about French wines but they don’t know where to start.  How would your evening progress?  This is the January 2020 challenge for our French Winophiles group.  Come with us as we Introduce a Newcomer to French Wine.

Map of all the wine regions in France courtesy of

French Wine is Diverse and Mysterious
As you can see from the map, grapes are grown and wine is made all over France from the sunny Mediterranean to the cold northern vineyards in Champagne, at the northern limit of where wine grapes will ripen. Wines range from austere, thrillingly acidic whites all the way to warm, friendly reds reflecting the Provençal summer with lazy evenings in the setting sun.

There are a few key things to note for a newcomer to French wine:

  • Wines are named for the village or region, not by the grape.  With few exceptions, you’ll not see a grape on the label of a bottle of French wine.  Rather, you’ll see the name of a place such as “Bordeaux” or “Gigondas”. This can get confusing, especially when you find out that Pouilly-Fuisse and Pouilly-Fume are two very different wines from villages that are nowhere near each other! Fear not, over time you’ll learn the grapes behind your favorite wines.
  • The best grapes for a region are those which will barely ripen by the end of the growing season. The old world approach for grape growing evolved over a long period of time. Winegrowers found that certain grapes produced the best wines, and those grapes typically required the whole growing season in order to ripen. Over time, those grapes became the standards of quality in a region and were the grapes used in the wine with the regional name.
  • A quality system exists for classifying wines. All over Europe, there exists a quality system for agricultural products of all sorts. In France, there are several levels of quality, often thought of as a pyramid. The quality level will be printed somewhere on the label.
    • Vin de France which is simple table wine, the base of the pyramid. These are wines for everyday drinking and are likely to be the “house wine” you might enjoy in a restaurant in France
    • Indication Géographique Protegée, or IGP. These wines are typical of a region with some latitude in grapes, yields, winemaking.
    • Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or AOC. These are usually the most sought after wines in a region with tight controls on growing region, grapes, yields, winemaking, and in some cases even harvest dates!

There’s a lot of information on a French wine label once you know how to decipher it!

Invitation to Join in the Fun
Join the fun this weekend! We coordinate our activities for the third Saturday of the month; we’ll all have fresh blog posts online and we’ll be chatting on Twitter on Saturday morning, January 18th at 11:00am EST, 8:00am PST. You’ll find us at the hashtag #Winophiles. You can always join the chat, even if you don’t have a blog.

Preview of Our Posts
Take a look below at all the great ideas for newcomers to French wines. There’s sure to be something here to ignite your interest!

  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “French Wine…Where to Begin?”
  • Pierre and Cynthia at Traveling Wine Profs share “Exploring French Wine on a tight budget at Trader Joe’s”
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “Deciphering French Wine Labels”
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Mediterranean Shrimp with a Corsican Wine”
  • Jill at L’Occasion shares “Your Ticket To French Wine Is Actually A Map
  • Nicole at Somm’s Table shares “French Wine 101 Cheat Sheet”
  • Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings shares “Learn about Wines from the Bourgueil AOC While Eating Pork Tongue Head Cheese + Napa Cabbage Salad”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “One Name to Get You Started on French wine”
  • Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Discover French Wine: Where to Start”
  • Gwen at Wine Predator shares two:
  • “Introduce a Friend to French Wine 1: Chateauneuf – du – Pape and Cassoulet”
  • “Introduce a Friend to French Wine 2: Loire’s Amirault in Nicholas Bourgeil”
  • Susannah at Avvinare adds “Start Your French Wine Study With Beaujolais ”
  • Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “French Wine 101: Taste for Yourself”

2 Responses to “Preview for French #Winophiles: Newcomer’s Guide to French Wine”
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] for all. Jeff, from FoodWineClick.Com has already written some extensive ones which you can find here and […]

  2. […] post for the French #Winophiles from Jeff at FoodWineClick. Jeff is the host for January’s Newcomers Guide to French Wine. Join us on twitter on Saturday January 18th on twitter to see what this group is all about. Or […]

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