Burgundy Versus Bordeaux: A Brief Introduction to French Wines
Wine isn’t just a beverage, it’s a culture that dates back centuries with origins all over the world. There were a total of 9,654 wineries in the United States at the beginning of 2018, all of which were producing wine. Yet, with a growing millennial population with little to no experience in the world of fine wines, people aren’t as involved in the wine industry as previous years.
That isn’t to say there isn’t interest, but people need to begin somewhere. While discount wines that taste like adult-grape juice are amazing, they’re just a drop in the ocean that is fine wines.
So to help those who want to mature their palette, or who those who want to expand their wine-related knowledge, this list is here to help you understand the world of a few French wines.
Burgundy wines can be confusing, especially since they often refer to different wines. For instance, a red burgundy is really a pinot noir, while a white burgundy is actually a chardonnay. However, most of the labels you’ll see don’t actually list those grapes, making wine selection difficult for someone unfamiliar. Without knowing the grape source, you wouldn’t be able to tell French red wines from Italian red wines. Burgundy wines are split into four tiers, indicating quality and grape source. The lowest tier is for regional wines, which come from anywhere in Burgundy. Next up are wines sourced from specific villages, and after those are wines from premier cru vineyards. At the top tier are wines from the most prestigious vineyards, known as the grand cru vineyards.
Bordeaux wines are usually a blend of grapes, and so your bottle of red could contain Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and maybe even Petit Verdot. Knowing which of the grapes is dominant in the blend depends on where the bottle came from, though. The region of Bordeaux is split into two areas, known as the left bank and the right bank, separated by the Gironde River. Wines from the left bank typically are blends dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, and wines from the right bank are usually Merlot dominated blends. An area between the left and right banks, with rivers on either side feeding into the Gironde, is called Entre Deux Mers. This location is known for white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle grapes. Classification of wine in Bordeaux is based on the individual producer of the wine, not so much the region where it came from.
In the age of technology, liquor stores and wineries don’t have to be the only place to buy wine. You can now buy French wine online so that you can try all of the wines listed above and more. There’s more than just French wine online, you can get just about any kind of vino you want. So go impress someone with a bottle of Bourgogne Rouge and your new knowledge of French wines.