Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir are among the different grape varieties from France.
Popularity of French Wines
France has several regions which produce French wine. They have the second-largest vineyard area and are the largest wind producer at about eight billion bottles per year. The French Ministry of Agriculture released statistics showing that French adults consumed about a glass of wine per day which made wine consumption down by four liters. The consumption of wine dropped across various social groups and exports also fell. The biggest drop was in sparkling wines and Champagne. An International Wine as Spirit research study, in 2011, shows that Americans consumed more wine than any other country.
- Wine Culture in Europe – This link discusses wine cultures in Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France.
- Wine Annual Report and Statistics – This is a report which assesses commodity and trade issues.
History of French Wine
Originating in the 6th century BC, with the colonization of Greek sellers in Southern Gaul, viticulture flourished when Marseille, the Greek colony was founded. South regions were licensed by the Roman Empire to produce wines. Monks, during the middle ages, not only maintained the vineyards but conserved the knowledge and skills. They had motivation, security and the resources to steadily produce wine for generating income as well as celebrating mass. Mildew and Phylloxera were spread throughout France which put an abrupt stop to the advancement of the wind industry and vineyards were desolate.
Eventually, an economic downturn and both world wars would mean the wine industry would take decades to fully recover. Appellation d’Origine Controlee was established in 1935 in order to protect France because French “brands” were being threatened by competition. During the 1970’s the economy took an upward turn after World War II, large investments were made, and a new generation helped create the French wines of modern times.
- The Impact of the Iraq War on French Wine Sales in the U.S. – This article discusses the impact that the war in Iraq has had on the sale of French wine in the United States.
- The Evolution of Value-Adding in the Wine Industry – This document discusses how wineries affect the environment and the value-adding strategies being utilized by wineries.
- Wine: A Short History – This document provides a history of French wines.
Quality Levels and Appellation Systems for French Wine
Numerous laws to control French wine quality levels were passed in 1935. The Appellation d’Origine Controlee was a system governed by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine which means the oldest system for protected designation of origin is one of the oldest in the world. France also created strict laws for production and winemaking which other systems modeled to. Two of the four wine categories, Vin de Table and Vin de Pays, which French law divided wine into, fall under the European Union’s Table wine category and the other two, Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure and Appellation d’Origine Controlee, fall into the EU’s Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region designation.
- How Wine Defined European Colonialism – This article discusses cultural transformation, the reconstruction of history, and trade within the French wine industry.
- In Vino Veritas – This article discusses innovation in the French wine industry.
The natural factors and their unique combinations, which are associated with particular vineyards, are known as terroir and it is of great importance to French vignerons. These factors include underlying rock, slope of the terrain, microclimate, and orientation towards the sun, soil, and altitude. No vineyards have the same terroir which is the base concept behind the AOC system. When identical varieties of grapes are in different regions, wines are produced which have a significant difference. The Burgundy region is where the terroir concept is manifested the most extreme.
- Terroir (Garance Marechal) – This article provides a conceptual overview and discusses terroir more in-depth.
- Terroir and the Perceived Value of Regional Origin – This article discusses food and wine as identity symbols, globalization, and localization of wines.
Wine Regions of France
The Institut National des Appellations d’Origine regulated the regions of France in which have been recognized as areas that produce wine. Each appellation has been defined by the INAO by the regions wine character. If the criterion is not met, the wine is declassified. Most appellations can be defined with the main regions which produce the most wine. These main regions include:
- Alsace – Alsace produces some sparkling and sweet wines as well as rose’ and reds, but this is primarily a white-wine region. This link provides more information on the wine regions of France.
- Bordeaux – Bordeaux has a history of exporting wine, primarily red wine, overseas and is a located on the Atlantic coast. This link provides more information on the Bordeaux wine region as well as a few other wine regions of France.
- Burgundy – Burgundy is located in eastern France and white and red wines are of equal importance. This link provides more in-depth information on the vines and wines of Burgundy.
- Champagne – Champagne is close to Luxembourg and Belgium, and it’s the coldest of the major regions. It’s also home to France’s major sparkling wine.
- Corsica – Corsica consumes its wine itself and is a Mediterranean island. This link provides an outline of the history of European vines and wines.
- Loire Valley – Loire Valley stretches along the Loire River and mainly produces white-wine. This document provides more information about the history and demographics of this region.
- Provence – Provence is the warmest of the French regions and produces red and rose’ wines. This link provides maps and information on the different wine regions.
- Rhone Valley – Rhone Valley is located in the south-east of France and produces red-wine.