French Wine: Great Wines, Great People

French wine is produced all throughout France, in quantities between 50 and 60 million hectolitres per year, or 7–8 billion bottles. France is one of the largest wine producers in the world.  French wine traces its history to the 6th century BC, with many of France’s regions dating their wine-making history to Roman times. The wines produced range from expensive high-end wines sold internationally to more modest wines usually only seen within France such as the Margnat wines were during the post war period.

French wine originated in the 6th century BC, with the colonization of Southern Gaul by Greek settlers. Viticulture soon flourished with the founding of the Greek colony of Marseille. Wine has been around for thousands of years in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, but France has made it a part of their civilization and has considered wine-making as an art for over two thousand years. Not only did the Gauls know how to cultivate the vine, they also knew how to prune it. Pruning creates an important distinction in the difference between wild vines and wine producing grapes. Before long, the wines produced in Gaul were exceptionally famous all around the world. The best vineyards were owned by the monasteries and their wine was considered to be superior. Over time the nobility developed extensive vineyards. However, the French Revolution led to the confiscation of many of the vineyards owned by the Church and others.

Wine producing areas in France

Wine regions of France

The recognized wine producing areas in France are regulated by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine – INAO in acronym. Every appellation in France is defined by INAO, in regards to the individual regions particular wine “character”. If a wine fails to meet the INAO’s strict criteria it is declassified into a lower appellation or even into Vin de Pays or Vin de Table. With the number of appellations in France too numerous to mention here, they are easily defined into one of the main wine producing regions listed below:

  • Alsace
  • Beaujolais
  • Bordeaux
  • Brittany
  • Burgundy

By Prof. Manoj Sharma

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