Without a doubt France remains the epicenter of the wine world. While other countries may stake claim to consuming the most wine per capita or producing more wine by volume, France is a pilgrimage all fine winemakers must make.

Despite France’s reputation for fine wine from illustrious Châteaux, France‘s winemaking prowess is largely accomplished on the backs of small, family-run operations with less than 15 acres of land. This is largely the reason why it is still possible for consumers to find high-quality French wines at bargain prices.

Perhaps another reason for France’s fame is the fact that it is home to a whopping 293 appellations. Little wonder then why so many American wine drinkers are intimidated by French wine! To learn a single appellation is to know which grapes are permitted to be grown, which styles of winemaking are fashionable, the climate, the predominant soil types, as well as the myriad cultural practices that differ from region to region such as pruning methods or trellising traditions. Whew.

The bright light at the end of the tunnel is that the complexity stemmed from something much more powerful and positive: variety! With such a large number of regions and appellations producing wine, it is correct to assume that there are hundreds of wine styles. From the bracingly acidic style of Chardonnay made in Chablis to the unctuous version of Petit Manseng from the Jurançon, France can certainly offer a white wine that fits your taste. When it comes to reds, many of us naturally think of the silky, complex Merlot blends from Bordeaux or the fragrant, earthy representation of Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Yet, France also offer approachable, fruity reds from Beaujolais as well as robust, powerful Syrah and Grenache from the Rhone Valley.

Don’t be afraid to explore France’s offerings; whatever the occasion may be. You will quickly find out why she is so popular and learn which of her offerings is your favorite!

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