Certainly, every wine lover has a favorite vintage, but wine aficionados consider French wine indisputably the best in the world. What makes French wine superior to wines produced in more than 50 countries around the globe? It’s all about the terroir.
The best French wine takes on the flavors of the regions and soils in which the grapes grow (aka, terroir), and you won’t find a more diverse set of growing regions—each uniquely suited for cultivating certain grapes—than you’ll find in France. From the cooler climates of Champagne to the north, to the warm, dry climates of the Rhone Valley in the southeast and all the areas in between, France has a little bit of everything. The diverse set of wines reflect that, and it’s this diversity that makes French wine more complementary to food than other wines.
What Are the 7 French Wine Regions?
Unlike American wines that are named after the wine grape, French wines are named for the region in which the grapes are grown. The seven French wine regions include:
- Bordeaux. More than 86% of the wine that comes from this region is red wine made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Black currant, plum, graphite, cedar, and violet are the primary flavors one finds in a Bordeaux.
- Alsace. The Alsace region shares a border with Germany, so most wine produced there is white, in keeping with the Germanic tradition. The area is most famous for its Sylvaners, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer wines which are not produced anywhere else in the country.
- Burgundy. Located in eastern France, the Burgundy region is best known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes which are used to produce a variety of wines, including Red Burgundy and White Burgundy. It is considered the best region in the world for growing these grapes and producing these wines.
- Loire. Wines that come from the Loire Valley are typically dry, white wines that include Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, and Chenin Blanc. Additionally, Loire boasts the second-highest concentration of sparkling wine-producing vines in the country.
- Provence. Nearly 75% of the wine produced in this region is Rosé. Winemakers use Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to create the Rosé and red wines for which they are known.
- Rhone Valley. While this region is renowned for its high-quality red, white, and Rosé wines, 94% of the wines produced here are red wines.
What Are 3 of the Best French Wines?
While Oenophiles (wine connoisseurs) may have their personal preferences, many will agree that the following three wines are some of the best France has to offer:
- Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a full-bodied wine with bold flavors and aromas of black currant and plums, and range in taste from tart to sweet, ripe fruit. More than 90% of Bordeaux red wine is made with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Muscadet. Featuring notes of lemon, lime, and tart apples, Muscadet wine is an extremely dry white wine that is crisp and refreshing. Aged Muscadet wine has a creamy texture with enhanced fruit flavors.
- Champagne. It’s no surprise that Champagne is on everyone’s top-three French wine list. To be labeled Champagne, the wine must come from France’s Champagne region. This effervescent wine’s flavor profile includes notes of melon, orange, and peach.
What Food Goes Well with French Wine?
You can find a French wine to pair with nearly any meal. With its bold, full-bodied flavors, Bordeaux maximizes the flavors of meat, particularly heavy, fattier, and saltier steaks and lamb. Given its high acidity, Muscadet is particularly good as a palate cleanser and pairs beautifully with seafood, such as mussels and oysters. Finally, Brut (very dry) Champagne complements steak, truffles, and fried chicken, while Blanc de Blanc Champagne (made entirely from white grapes) goes well with oysters, caviar, and light fish.
No matter what your preference, you can expect to find French wine filled with unique flavors and bold aromas. We recommend you sample as many varieties as possible to find your favorites.