So, follow our guide to how to drink your way through each of France’s wine regions;
Signature grapes: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, Cabernet Franc
Known for its chateaux, Chenin Blanc, and serious amount of ‘natural’ winemakers, the Loire Valley is home to some of France’s most exciting and easily accessible wine tasting opportunities. Simply hop a 90-minute fast train (TGV) from Paris and quickly be transported to a landscape of luscious vineyards and leafy greenery as far as the eye can see. Expect light to medium-bodied reds produced from peppery Cabernet Franc and crisp, high-acid whites made from a variety of grapes. Love oysters, goat cheese, and sipping alongside epic scenery? Then visiting the Loire is for you.
Signature grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
Champagne really needs no introduction. Dubbed the King of global sparkling wine, the region is synonymous with luxurious accommodations, lustrous sipping, and of course, lively bubbles. Hop a 45-min fast train (TGV) from Paris to Reims and arrive at the region’s capital in no time. From there, simply stay in the city center and hit the big ‘Houses,’ or rent a car and truly see the beauty of the region by visiting smaller grower-producers.
Signature grapes: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir
For quaint cottages, storybook-like ambiances, and opulent yet balanced white wines, look no further than Alsace. Hitting the streets of Strasbourg or Colmar is essentially like walking through a medieval fairytale. Everything is colorful, the people are friendly, and family winemaking traditions are strong. Here, the German influence is still present; snack on salty pretzels and savory sausages, all washed down with the region’s signature high-acid whites, produced from a variety of grapes, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Sylvaner. Alsace is also known for its late-harvest wines and sweet dessert bottlings.
Signature grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Wine lovers of all knowledge levels and palate preferences can agree on 1 thing: when it comes to wine, Burgundy is home. Known as the birthplace of the concept of terroir, the region’s varietal bottlings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are viewed as benchmark expressions for producers worldwide. Burgundy is also home to some of France’s most highly regarded vignerons, as well as some of the country’s most sought after cuisine. Accessing Beaune from Paris is as easy as hopping the fast train. Aspiring wine aficionados and lovers of boeuf bourguignon, this is the trip of a lifetime.
Signature grapes: Gamay
Beaujolais’ vineyards are easily accessible from the city center of Lyon, which is the gastronomical capital of France. Take organized tour from 1 of Lyon’s many wine tour centers or rent a Ferrari and venture out on your own. Francophiles, foodies, and lovers of natural wine, this trip is for you.
Jura / Savoie
Signature grapes: Savagnin, Chardonnay, Poulsard (Jura) ; Jacquere, Altesse, Mondeuse (Savoie)
Jura or Savoie is beloved by sommeliers and wine geeks alike, the Jura has become one of France’s Top up-and-coming regions, best-known for its ‘sous-voile’ white wine production, which pairs impeccably with locally produced Comté cheese. Just south of the Jura lies Savoie, known for its Alpine-influenced whites and crisp, high-acid reds. This region is the perfect destination for those looking to ski, snack on creamy cheeses, and simply sip in style, fireside.
Signature grapes: Viognier, Syrah, Grenache
For a region that can do it all, look no further than France’s Rhône Valley. The region is divided into Northern and Southern components, and knowing the viticultural differences between the is is Key. The Northern part of the Valley is known for its benchmark varietal Syrah and unctuous whites, while the Southern Rhône has a little bit of everything. The best way to see both sides of the Rhône is to rent a car and explore on your own. Be sure to stop by the famed Hill of Hermitage, go for a run along the river, and indulge in the region’s highly-regarded cheeses.
Signature grapes: Rolle (Vermentino), Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault
Salty sea air, vibrant lavender fields, and bottles of thirst-quenching rosé as far as the eye can see. Is there any dreamier destination than the seaside vineyards of Provence? Known for its small fishing villages, daily farmers’ markets, and impeccable wine production, it is no surprise that Provence is one of France’s most beloved vacation destinations for both French residents and international visitors alike. Provence provides it all.
Signature grapes: Picpoul, Mauzac, Grenache (Blanc et Noir), Syrah, Carignan
Love the idea of hitting Provence minus tourists and flashy beachside resorts? Then the Languedoc needs to be on your radar. Located on the western side of Southern France, the Languedoc is a viticultural melting pot. Hundreds of grape varieties are cultivated within the region, including indigenous and international varieties. The region had somewhat of a bad wine rep for quite some time, though over the last 20 yrs, the quality of production has improved. City dwellers, check out the region’s capital Montpellier for a lively mix of history and wine culture, as well as easy proximity to the region’s beaches. Do visit the world-renowned Canal du Midi, Pont du Gard, and fortified city of Carcassonne.
Signature grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Petit/Gros Manseng, Malbec, Tannat
For those in the know, South West France is where it is at. The region’s wines have long lived in the shadows of neighboring Bordeaux, though as the latter’s wine prices continue to rise, the South West is seeing a renaissance. Hit the quaint hilltop village of Rocamadour, bask in the Sunshine of Biarritz, or take a dive into the Dordogne, all whilst sipping on something unique offerings. Malbec actually originates from South West France, not Argentina.
Signature grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Bordeaux is known for its Top-notch red blends produced on the ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ Banks of the Gironde, Bordeaux is truly the Goldilocks of France’s wine regions no matter what you like, you will be able to find something that is just right. Serious connoisseurs and collectors can check out the region’s prestigious chateaux and vineyard sites, while more casual sippers can enjoy Bordeaux blends both red and white at one of the city’s many chic wine bars. Do not miss the city’s Cité du Vin wine museum.
Have a healthy Memorial Day weekend, and when the world opens up head for France’s wine country!