Demystifying French Wine with a Simple Primer

on 07/11/10 at 10:02 am

Wine

Let’s face it. Wine is complicated. And French wine is a swirling maelstrom of history, government control, regional divides, family in-fighting, and basic chemistry. But must we know every little detail to understand what we like when we drink it?

I want to demystify French wine. I want to simplify French wine. I want to drink French wine without reading volumes and memorizing details. I want to know about the people and families who make the wine, and how they feel about their commitment and drive for perfection. But honestly, I simply want to breathe in the aroma, take in the first sip, savor the wine, linger on the mid-palate and head for the finish line with a smile of satisfaction. It’s like searching for the Holy Grail. Except we are looking for magic in a bottle, and it can be elusive. But isn’t the thrill of the hunt in the searching?

How do we begin such a journey? Must we climb to the top of a French mountain for enlightenment? Should we read a book or check wikipedia for each regional grape variety? Or can we simply jump right into the deep end and go for it?

I say jump, but with some thought as to how to organize and accomplish this search. Make it easy on yourself and create your own Tour de France. Pick a wine region such as the Loire Valley or Burgundy, or select a varietal such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir. Then choose one wine each from three different producers for comparison. Congratulations! You have just created a wine tasting.

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