You think of France, and the first thing to come to your mind is a nice bottle of wine! The French sure knew the importance of celebration, jubilation and having a good time – how else would they come up with such good types of wine? Read on…
If I had to thank the French people for one, and only one thing, I would graciously praise them and show my deep gratitude towards them for giving the world some of the best types of wine! Did you know that France produces almost 8 billion bottles of wine every year? Honestly, if I could pick one destination for an all-expenses paid trip, it would be France, so I could spend some quality time tasting some of the best wine in the world! France has given us some of the best wines ever, but before we take a look at the excellent French wine, let us try to understand the four main types of French wines.
Three factors contribute significantly to the characteristic taste of a particular French wine: the grape variety used to make the wine, the vineyard in which these grapes are grown (each vineyard has its own terroir), and the method used to make the wine. Accordingly, France has devised a set of winery laws. All the wine produced in France is hence classified into four main categories, viz. –
- Appellation d’origine contrôlée
- Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure
- Vin de pays
- Vin de table
Each of the four categories mentioned above comprises some really good French wine that can be picked for various occasions like birthday parties, wedding anniversaries, get-togethers, etc.
Appellation d’origine contrôlée
Abridged as AOC, Appellation d’origine contrôlée (Controlled Designation of Origin) is regarded as the highest, most prestigious category of French wine. Around 300 different French wine are included in this category. These wine have the most strict rules and laws with respect to the varieties of grapes that may be used, the method used to make the wine, etc. – they are rather ‘demanding’! The best types of AOC French wine are –
- Rosé des Riceys – French rosé wine made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes.
- Crémant d’Alsace – sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot gris grapes.
- Listrac-Médoc – high quality French red wine from Bordeaux, made of Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot grapes.
- Saint-Péray – French white wine made from Marsanne and Roussanne grapes; a sparkling Saint-Péray is also produced by the traditional method.
Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure
Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) translates to ‘Delimited Wine of Superior Quality’. VDQS wine are subject to such restrictions as total yield of grapes, grape varieties, etc. They have lesser production restrictions than AOC wine. VDQS wine eventually apply for AOC status, and hence there are fewer VDQS wine than any other type of wine. The best types of VDQS French wine are –
- Coteaux d’Ancenis – a red wine made from Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cabernet franc grapes; an off-white Fiefs Vendéens is also made from Pinot gris grapes.
- Fiefs Vendéens – a French white wine made from Chardonnay and Chenin grape varieties.
- Châteaumeillant – a French red wine made from Pinot Noir and Gamay grape varieties blended together.
Vin de pays
The term is used to denote French country wine. Though the term has been replaced by Indication Géographique Protégée, many still continue to recognize these wine as Vin de pays. The labeling of these wine has more regulations than that of Vin de table wine and does carry certain geographic information, but the legislation regarding the production is less strict than that of AOC wine. The best types of Vin de pays French wine are –
- Vins de Pays Charentais – this white wine is made primarily from Ugni Blanc, and also from Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grape varieties.
- Vins de pays de l’Ile de Beauté – a rosé wine made from Sciacarello grapes, and Cinsault grapes are used for blending.
- Vins de Pays des Coteaux de Peyriac – this may either be a white wine made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc or a rosé wine made using Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah grapes.
- Vins de Pays des Bouches du Rhône – Mediterranean grape varieties like Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre go on to make this wine.
Vin de table
Vin de table wine are commonly known as table wine. These are the lowest category wine in the wine classification system. Table wine usually do not carry details regarding the geographical area in which the wine was made or the area in which the grapes used for the wine were grown (i.e. the location of the vineyard), etc. Table wine thus enjoy the least amount of rules, regulations and legislation. Vin de table can be regarded to comprise all the local wine that are made and sold throughout France and which do not fall under any of the above wine categories.
One tip I would like to give here is – when picking a good wine for a party make sure you consider the tannins, body and power of a red wine, and the sugar, body and power of a white wine. The body of a wine may be firm, soft or fleshy; the power delicate, aromatic or intense; the tannins light, supple or robust, while the sugar dry, off-dry or sweet. Wine in general is of the following main types: red, white, rosé, fortified and sparkling. French wine are of the above types. Be sure to read the label on the bottle carefully before you make your pick. Wish you happy times ahead… CHEERS!