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French Red Wine

For the last four thousand years, the French have been perfecting the art of growing and sourcing grapes and have brought the pastime of enjoying wine into civilisation since the Greek colonies settled in the southern fish port of Marseille.

French Red Wine

Traditionally, the French red is most associated with a medium to full bodied wine and the perfect accompaniment to a hearty meal (as well as a more than hearty hangover).

But today, the wide range of geographic and seasonal climates have become the growing home for a huge variety of different grapes, not just the bold and earthy.

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Quality assurance

Due to the popularity and wide exportation of French red wine, the Appellation d’origine Contrôlée (a committee to maintain the quality and origin of French wine are genuine and assured, abbreviated as simply ‘AoC’) issued several different labels to show that exported French reds follow a continued standard of quality.

Vin de Table shows the classification of having been produced in France, whereas Vin de Pays illustrates that the wine has been produced from a specific region and have been analysed for the correct blending of grapes and production standards.

So before you buy, make sure to look for the AoC stamp of quality.

French reds by grape

French red wines are arguably the most varied in body, flavour and palette.

As is the case with Italy, the large range of weather conditions and climates leads to a wide variety of flavour.

The most popular grapes include

  • Merlot: a dark and early ripening grape, popularly used in blended wines and alone for a rich and full bodied flavour
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: both bright and dry, late harvested and high in tannins
  • Malbec: lighter and more drinkable without waking up with a sore head
  • Pinot Noir: a lighter red and drinkable, zesty and classy grape

Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the best all-round grapes, pairs well with beef, pork and smoked meats. Medium bodied, a good cabernet is a blend of two types of grapes (Merlot and Cabernet Franc), and has heavy notes of black and red berries, oaky wood, with a dark, dry finish.

Try the AOC Bourgueil, Loire Valley, France, Château de la Bonnelière (2013) for a truly gorgeous Cabernet.

Merlot, is another strong contender, with rich overtones of plum, blackberries and even chocolate!

For a richer and darker grape, Merlot is great to lift other grapes as well as perfectly paired with lamb or a hearty stew.

Try out Pura Fe Carménère 2012 Alvaro Espinoza as a fantastic option.

French Shiraz (or if you’re European “Syrah”) just beats Malbec as a popular French red.

A wonderfully plummy and berry flavoured red, the aftertaste is again that of oak and pepper.

Many regional wines in France use Syrah as a means to blend and create multiple famous and popular wines.

Trying the Vin de Pays des Coteaux de l’Ardeche Syrah 2006, is recommended.

Pinot Noir. A purely French grape although grown the world over, and an effortlessly chic addition to any dining table.

With just the right amount of tannins, the dry tartness of this wine allows for moderated enjoyment.

Pair with duck, European cuisine, heavy cream sauce bases and full fat soft cheese.

Bon appetite!

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Author

Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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