The world leader in wine production, Wine Tasting in France lures wine connoisseurs with a fascinating universe of experiences. From the refreshing white wines in the Loire Valley to the velvety reds of Bordeaux and the bubbly wines of Champagne, the entire country seems to be an ode to Bacchus. Dotted with vineyards, wineries, and wine tours, France is a paradise for the lovers of this graceful potion of beatitude. Wine tasting in France can be a one-day experience or a lifetime adventure.
Before embarking on a wine tasting adventure, know that most French wines are named according to their place of origin – Bordeaux, Chinon, Bourgogne, following a very strict appellation contrôlée system (AOC). The system provides useful information about the geographical origin, quality, and style of the wine. While in Bordeaux wines are classified according to their regions, towns, and villages, Burgundy classifies the wines based on vineyard plots. However, Champagne prefers to classify its wines only according to the Crus (villages) where the grapes are grown.
The wine tasting that takes place at the cellar door is free of charge but the custom is to buy a bottle of wine after the dégustation. So it’s recommended not to try an expensive wine if you don’t intend to buy it. When it comes to the tasting order, always start with a white wine, preferably sweet, followed by a white wine dry. The rosés are next in line to pamper your palate, while the reds should be kept for last.
The crisp wines of Loire Valley
Many know and love the Loire Valley for its spectacular castles and fairy tale ambiance. However, wine lovers know that this valley is also the source of some of France’s finest wines like Chinon and Touraine. The Loire Valley’s countryside is an undulating painting with rich vineyards and charming little towns, all under the spell of ancient castles. Many of the wines in the Loire Valley are made by small producers who are always happy to open their doors for wine tasting experiences.
The valley offers a surprisingly vast range of wines for such a small wine region made from Melon de Bourgogne, Sauvignon Blanc, and Romorantin grape varieties. Chenin Blanc is the only region in the world that specializes in Cabernet Franc. Only 20 miles from Tours awaits a wine paradise where you will be invited to taste an overwhelming variety of wines. Visit the Garden of France for its castles and pair your sightseeing with a glass of ethereal white wine and maybe some cheese.
The passionate wines of Bordeaux
Famous for its red wine, Bordeaux dazzles the wine-lover audience with an extravaganza of grand Châteaux and grand wines. The wines all over the world have changed and evolved but a wine connoisseur will always compare them with the majestic wines of Châteaux of Bordeaux. With the first vineyards dating back to the Roman times, when “the Biturica” grape made an appearance in the region, Bordeaux can firmly state it knows its way around wine.
The wine producers of Bordeaux are ruthless when it comes to choosing the grapes for their collections. It’s no surprise that their grape selection and work ethic is reflected in the rather high prices one must pay for a bottle of Bordeaux. However, their world-famous wines that delight the senses with rich flavors and scents are definitely worth that small fortune. There are 13 grape varieties permitted under the AOC regulations, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Semillon. If you’re ready for a challenge, attend the Marathon du Médoc where you can taste the best wines of the region while on the run!
The sophisticated wines of Burgundy
Known for its refined red wines, Burgundy’s most famous vineyards await in Dijon, the region’s capital, and Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy. Wine lovers often meet in Burgundy to taste fine wine in medieval cellars and salons, such as the Pouilly-Fuissé and St Véran. The most famous grapes in Burgundy are the pinot noir grapes, but you will also get to taste delicate white wines made from chardonnay grapes.
The Côte du Nuits is the epicenter of the intense wines of Burgundy, while Côte du Beaune tempts wine aficionados with complex white Grand Crus wines. A land of rolling hills, vineyards, and waterways, Burgundy impresses the visitors with ducal towns and charming villages boasting a rich history. Wine tasting adventures are accompanied by visits to fabulous chateaux and Norman abbeys, as well as culinary experiences.
The sparkling wines of Champagne
Probably the most famous wine region in the country, Champagne adds a touch of glamour to any wine tasting experience. The lovely Champagne is blessed with picturesque hills and undulating valleys, all dressed from head to toe in splendid vines and thick forests. Moreover, the region’s heart, the imposing city of Reims is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites and blends history into any tour of the region. As you’ve probably guessed by now, the bubbly champagne reigns supreme in the region. Champagne is usually made from blending base wines created from up to three different grape varieties, usually Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier).
The great Champagne Houses can use up to 100 different base wines. For a glass of elegant champagne, try the Blanc de Blancs Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay, while if you want to surprise your taste buds with a floral and fruity frenzy, taste a Pinot Meunier champagne. The best of the best champagnes are to be found in only 17 Crus, under the name of Grand Cru Champagnes, including the villages of Ambonnay, Chouilly, Verzenay, and Bouzy.