French Wine - How To Select A Fine Bottle

Despite being second to Italy as the producer of wine and second to Spain in terms of vineyard surface area to many people wine is synonymous with French wine. France has over 2 million acres of vineyards and produces 7 to 8 billion bottles of wine each year. The roots of some French wine varietals can be traced back to the 6th century BC with some regions still adhering to the same techniques and formulas that were perfected during the days of the Roman Empire.

Taking a sip of refreshing, tingly wine is an extremely invigorating experience for the palette. And almost all of us like to enjoy the varieties of experiences that French wine has to offer. But many of us have stood in front of rows of French wine bottles totally blank about how to pick up the right fine bottle of French wine.

A little knowledge about the various aspects that go into defining fine wine can help in making the right choice. Some of the aspects that you should consider are details on the label, taste, price, the bottle and the cork.

The label really tells you a lot about the quality of the wine that is waiting to bubble out from the bottle. French wine is produced in several regions throughout France and many of them like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne owe their popularity to the good quality of wine produced in these regions. There are also various varietals of wine and these are generally denoted by the name of the grape from which it is made. For example, a red Bordeaux wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. All French wines are classified into Terroir or Appellation Controlee (AOC).

Terroir wine and the labels are marked with their place of origin. The vast French wine industry is extremely heterogeneous and produces different varieties of wine ranging from cheap table wine to expensive first growths, primarily from the Bordeaux region. The regions have various districts that are further divided into communes. Within these communes there are several thousand different chateaux in the Bordeaux and other regions that produce their own wines. The chateaux generally bottle their own wine to ensure that the wine is not blended and to guarantee the purity of the offering. The flavor, identity and bouquet of the wine from a chateau are unique and each produce has individuality. Even if two chateaux are located close to each other and use the same blend of grapes. This is mainly because the technique and method of producing the wine is typical to a chateau and is passed on from one generation to another for centuries.

On the other hand AOC wines follow the AOC guideline on the variety of grapes and the techniques that are allowed in a certain region, also called appellation. These rules need to be followed if the producer wishes to use the AOC label on the wine bottle. For example, every producer of Bordeaux wine marks the bottle with the name of the region (for example: Bordeaux, Burgundy) the district name, name of the commune and the specific wine type and other legally mandated information. Of the 17 geographical districts of Bordeaux, M├ędoc, Graves, St. Emilion, and Pomerol are among the better known and are popular for their powerful tannic flavored wine.

Good French wine is like good perfume in a way. Almost all good wines come in classy bottles that do not have flashy labels. The label is likely to be modest and subdued with the bottle itself with a shape that is alluring and aesthetic.

A connoisseur of French wine will know that the cork of the wine bottle reveals whether the wine is classy and fine or cheap. Fine wine bottles are always corked with corks made from oak bark. In most cases of fine wine, the name of the chateaux and the harvest year are printed on the cork. Normally, longer and deeper corks are a sign of more expensive wine.

It is also pertinent to add here that wine stored near a radiator or in a warm place should be avoided. Exposure to heat, wide temperature fluctuations and bright spotlights can diminish the quality of wine inside the bottle despite excellent credentials. Be wary of buying from a shop where wine is stored near a radiator or a heating vent.

Needless to say that the subtlety, personality and bouquet of taste that a wine provides is also a sign of the fineness of the French wine, as is the price tag. A cheap wine is hardly likely to be priced exorbitantly and a fine wine producer is also not likely to sell his produce cheap. However, when it comes to taste, there are various kinds of French wines that are preferred by various people. Whether you choose a soft aromatic wine from Bordeaux or a playful dry one should be a matter of preference, occasion, accompanied food and mood.

It is often recommended that before purchasing a fine bottle of French wine and spending that hard earned money on the lively liquid, it is best to taste the wine. After all taste is the most important element of fine wine and all classifications and credentials on the label are brought to a naught If you do not like the taste. When buying retail, ensure that you do take a sip of the wine that you have selected and twirl it around your tongue. Even if you are buying french wine online, ordering trial packs of 6 with whatever specifications that you want is a better idea than going in for a fine bottle blindly. You can ask for a trial pack of fine French wines or a mix of red and white wines from Bordeaux and whatever combination that you are looking for.

The above information will make sure that when you are in front of a long array of French wines the next time, you will be able to go about making your choice in a more intelligent and knowledgeable manner rather than playing tic-tac-toe to decide which one to pick or picking one on the basis of a whim.

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About The Author, Scot Jamieson
This article was brought to you by Bordeaux Shippers - Australia's leading online supplier of French wine.