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French Culture

Introduction to French Wines

A votre santé, cheers…

imageFrance is the second wine producer in the world and produces a great variety of wines. French wine is much appreciated around the world and France produces over 5 billion litres of wine per year. French wine is produced in several regions throughout France, on over 800,000 hectares of vineyards. In a typical year between 50 and 60 million hectolitres of wine is produced, or some 7 to 8 billion bottles. The earliest history of French wine goes back to the 6th century BC, and many of France’s regions count their wine-making history to Roman times. Over the last several hundred years, France has been the most influential country in the wine world: France is the source of more well-known grape varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah) and winemaking practices than any other country, the names of many French wine regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are well-known throughout the world, and the style of top French wines have long been the benchmark for winemaking in most wine-producing countries of the world. French wine therefore plays an enormously important role in French identity and pride, and the combination of French wine and the equally influential French gastronomy has been an important one.

The Main Wine Regions of France:

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imageWhen reading about wine, you will most probably come across the word “terroir”. The word “terroir” refers to all the elements which give wines their aroma: soil, climate, savoir-faire (know how)… Les “produits du terroir” refers to all the products (wine, pâté, fois gras…) produced in the various regions of France.

To get a taste of French wine and culture, why not visit a few wineries or caves. They often offer free wine tasting (dégustation) and you can buy wine by the bottle.

Note: The AOC label (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) label guarantees the origin of a product and its authenticity. Wines with and AOC label are more expensive but of a good quality.

Pairing Food and Wine

Here is a selection of dishes and wines to accompany them with:

Starters:
Soupe à l’oignon: Beaujolais or Riesling
Soupe de poisson (fish soup): Rosé
Fois gras: Meursault, Coteaux du Layon
Huitres creuses (oysters): Muscadet
Saumon fumé (smoked salmon): Riesling
Tarte à l’oignon (onion tart): Pinot Blanc

Meat:
Rôti de bœuf (roast beef): Bourgogne, Côtes du Rhone (red)
Coq au vin (rooster/chicken in wine): Chateauneuf du Pape
Magrets de canard: Côtes du Rhone, Bourgogne
Poulet a la crème: Beaujolais
Blanquette de veau: Riesling
Gigot de mouton (mutton leg): Saint-Emilion

Fish:
Sole (sole): Chablis
Turbot (turbot): Saumur
Saumon (salmon): Chablis
Brochet (pike): Sancerre

Cheese:
Fromage a chèvre (goat cheese): Sancerre
Camembert: Côte du Rhône, Bordeaux
Roquefort: Sauterne, Châteauneuf du Pape (red)

Desserts/Cakes:
Salade de fruits (fruit salad): Monbazillac, Sauterne
Tarte Tatin: Coteaux du Layon, Bergerac
Galette des rois (twelfth-night cake): Champagne
Eclairs: Sauterne
Brioche: Coteaux du Layon

Enjoy !

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