Wine is undoubtedly one of the great national treasures of France, which over the years has become an integral part of French culture and is rooted in history with around half a million vineyards.
Although you can find many great value wines and numerous different varieties to choose from whatever your palette, there are also some of the most expensive wines in the world that are produced in France, and the vast majority of people will never be able to experience in their lifetime.
In fact, a vintage Romanee Conti red wine produced from the pinot noir grape in Burgundy can cost anything upwards of 1,000 for just one bottle. And a rare vintage case of 12 sold at auction in London for a staggering 58,500 making this the most expensive case of wine sold at auction up until the year 2007.
Both Bordeaux and Burgundy have always contested that they produce the best wines and in their own ways the are probably both correct, and yet apart from the Champagne region, famous for the sparkling wine of the same name, Bordeaux wines are far more widely known than those from Burgundy.
No matter what region in France you go on holiday to, you will be able to sample a wide variety of different wines and it is a good idea to get to know your preferences before trying different ones. Whether you prefer a red wine or a white wine, sweet or dry, still or sparkling the choice is immense.
Going to a wine tasting session can be great fun trying out different varieties, yet for some it can also be a little daunting, especially if it is not on an arranged tour of which there are plenty to choose from. However, there are some general pointers that will get you through.
When wine tasting, you should always start off with the lightest wines such as sparkling wines and work through to full bodied whites, then through the reds from the light to the full bodied and end on dessert wines. This will help to keep your taste buds more sensitive so you can better appreciate each wine and in some places they even supply water in between so as to get the full flavour and texture of each wine you are tasting.
You should swill the wine round in the glass a couple of times, which will help aerate it and provide you with the full aroma. Plus it is customary to spit out most wine, rather than swallow it, although you can swallow a small amount on occasions to experience what it is like after it has gone down.
The Loire Valley is a massive wine producing region that produces a variety of wine such as Muscadet, Cabernet Franc, Gamay reds and even reasonably priced Sauvignon Blancs. And with the beautiful chateaux plus the tranquil winding river it makes the Loire region one of the most visited areas in France for experiencing wines and fine French food to accompany them with the stunning backdrops so synonymous with this region.
Yet for hundreds of years Bordeaux has had a long and internationally famous history of high quality wines and is also a very popular place to go, although you can still pick up a good value Bordeaux wine if you travel to the outskirts of the region.
And yes, who could not think about champagne, which is so tightly controlled for what can be classed as a true champagne, you will get to appreciate why some varieties are so expensive and are only produced in this region for consumption throughout the world. However, there are some vineyards that will charge far less for a bottle of their champagne with the same finesse, compared to that of the famous brands we have all come to know.
The Languedoc region in France is one of the biggest wine producing regions and to put this into perspective, it has over two times more land planted to vines than the whole of Australia! Even though in the past, they concentrated more on quantity rather than quality, this is changing where you can pick up a reasonably priced wine that can match up to some at double or even triple the cost.
But France is a country that has such a different range of wines from the many wine regions and each one will provide a taste, aroma and body like no other and some regions themselves offer such a diverse range it can be quite mind boggling, yet a fascinating experience.
Obviously, white wine has long been associated with fish and chicken, whereas red wine is normally paired with red meats and game. Yet when you are in France experiencing the fantastic culinary delights of the regions speciality French food, take the time to choose a wine that will enhance the experience or ask for advice and enjoy.