Be careful when buying Bordeaux. As the Chinese market has developed a taste for wine, the prices have gone a bit mad, and do not always indicate the quality of the wine
The French stereotype - baguettes, berets, effortless grace, haughty air - would be incomplete without a glass of French wine. What’s more, your trip would be incomplete without trying it. They produce a staggering 7-8 billion bottles of wine a year, making them one of the largest wine producers in the world. They probably drink most of it too. The French are valiantly holding out the tradition of wine with a proper lunch as the rest of the world munches a Prêt-a-Manger sandwich in front of their monitor.
A certain je ne sais quoi
French wines can be a touch confusing. They rarely put the name of the grape on the bottle, instead putting a place name. The traditions of winemaking and grape growing are tied into each region’s long history. In part this is because of how important they believe the terroir is. This is a slightly indefinable quality of the ground where the grape is grown, which is determined by accumulation and interaction of thousands of factors. No one really knows what it is, so it remains a pleasingly magical thing.
Burgundy & Bordeaux
These are two of the prestige wines that France prides itself on. The Pinot noir grape is used for Burgundy. It is notoriously difficult to grow, but makes fruity wines with soft tannins that go delightfully with, for example, chicken and lamb.
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grapes are often used for the ‘Bordeaux blend’. You will notice a hint of blackcurrant, and someone pompous might start talking about leathery, tobacco-y, truffle-y or cedarwood notes — then have another sip and you may find yourself noticing these flavours too..
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