7 Things You Should Know About French Wine

7 Things You Should Know About French Wine

Ah, French wine! Few countries swirl, sniff, and sip their way into a wine lover's heart quite like France. While it might not be the cradle of winemaking(that’d be Georgia, in Eastern Europe), it's undoubtedly the region that has elevated wine on a global scale.

Navigating French wines can seem as complicated as finding your way through a vineyard at midnight - but trust us, they are a treasure trove of quality, with an admirable commitment to sustainable winemaking. Cracking open this wine puzzle is like finding a new playground for your palate.

As your friendly neighborhood wine experts at Cork Fine Wines in Calgary, we're here to hand you the keys to the French wine castle. Get ready to add a little "Je ne sais quoi" to your wine chatter!

1. France is the birthplace of several beloved grape varieties

You know those juicy Chardonnays and robust Cabernets from California? Well, they're French by birth! Grapes like Malbec, now a superstar in regions like Bordeaux, Cahors, and Languedoc, originated in France. And let's not forget vibrant Cinsault, blushing in Languedoc, Southern Rhone, and Provence, or bold Merlot, thriving in Languedoc, Bordeaux, and parts of Southwest France. They're all part of France's history, and cornerstones of the modern wine world.

2. Name-Calling in French Winemaking

The French have a penchant for blending their grape varieties, creating liquid symphonies that are much more than their parts. That's why you'll often see wines named after the blend rather than the varietal. Picture a red Bordeaux, a harmonious blend of Merlot and Cabernet grapes, or the full-bodied GSM’s of Southern France, brimming with Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Carignan. It's a French winemaking signature - and not apt to change anytime soon - it’s tradition! 

3. Decoding French Wine Labels

French wine labels like to play hide-and-seek with their grape varieties. Instead, they shine the spotlight on the region or appellation. A bottle marked "Chablis," for instance, is 100% Chardonnay but gets its name from its French hometown. So when you're studying a French wine label, zone in on the region or appellation. It's your best bet for guessing what's inside the bottle. Still confused? Ask your friendly neighbourhood wine-mongers like the team at Cork Fine Wine to help you decode the labels!

4. Wine Overload: Languedoc

When it comes to wine volume and acreage, Languedoc is France's undisputed wine factory. Imagine an impressive 14.3 million cases of wine each year! This sprawling region nurtures a dizzying array of wines and styles. Plus, the Mediterranean Sea's cozy proximity ensures consistent vintages and cultivates a healthy organic wine scene.

5. A Melting Pot of Blends

Every French wine region has a signature blend. Think Malbec mingling with Merlot and Tannat in Cahors or Syrah leading the charge in the northern Rhône Valley, often with a dash of white varieties like Viognier. These clever combinations help winemakers deliver consistent quality and flavours year after year.

6. Rosé: The French Flirt

No discussion of French wines is complete without a nod to the beguiling rosés of Provence. Crafted from a red grape medley, these wines don a subtle, salmon-pink robe that's as French as a beret. And let's not overlook the Languedoc region, a friendly neighbor to Provence, offering equally lovely rosés at wallet-friendly prices. Just because summer is waving goodbye, doesn't mean we can't sip these beauties well into fall. In fact, Cork’s GM Matt drinks rosé year-round! Savoury rosés in the Fall and Winter, and fresh sippers in the warmer months - there is a Rosé for every season.

6. Food and French Wine: A Perfect Pair

In the grand tradition of French culture, wine is rarely seen without a meal in tow. Languedoc's wine bounty means there's a perfect partner for every dish. Looking for some inspired food and wine pairings? Swing by our wine store in Calgary for a chat and let us play matchmaker with our handpicked selection of French wines.

Nestled in downtown Calgary's heart, within the Bow Valley Square complex, Cork Fine Wine, Liquor & Ale is an independent boutique wine store specializing in small-production wines, local craft beer and cocktails, artisanal spirits, and rare finds. Join us for a trip down the French wine rabbit hole - we also boast the widest selection of Champagne in Western Canada!

Join us to our Free Wine Tasting: Thirsty Thursdays & Fancy Fridays from 1:30 - 4:30PM!

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