France is one of the countries best known for wine production, and indeed, vineyards can be found all around the country from north to south. Around 8 billion bottles are made in France every year, making it one of the world’s biggest wine producers.
Wine has been produced in France since the 6th century BC, and many of the regions in France best known for wine making can date their history back to Roman times. Many grape varieties are grown here, including the most famous types like Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, France was the country of origin of all of these famous vines which have now spread around the world. France has also been the source of many of the wine making styles and practices which are now in use elsewhere in the world.
Traditionally, France has been the biggest consumer of its domestic wines, however over the last four decades wine consumption domestically has fallen and therefore foreign markets have been the target of French wine producers. The country is perhaps best known for its champagne and expensive classified and ranked wines, but these make up only around 5% of total French wine production.
In general, French wines focus less on fruity flavours than on earthy ones, and French wine has sometimes been described as tasting like mushrooms or chalk.
Some of France’s best known wine producing regions include Burgundy, best known for its rich pinot noirs, Bordeaux with its distinctive Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons, the Loire Valley with its varied wines, Alsace with its strong German influences, the Rhone, with its signature Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah blends, Languedoc and Roussillon with its warm climate flavours and the roses of Provence, not forgetting the classic champagnes of the same-named region.