French wine isn’t just the classy stuff your friend’s parents drink when they come over for dinner — it has some interesting qualities and origins that you might not have known about before. Whether you’re interested in French wine because you like France or because you want to expand your knowledge of wine-making, this article will give you 10 facts about French wine that will make you look like an expert at your next wine tasting party!
1) France makes more wine than any other country
Every year, France produces about 300 million hectoliters of wine. That’s a lot of wine! In fact, it’s more than any other country makes in the world. That includes countries like Italy and Spain which are well-known for their vast vineyards. While most of the wine made in France is fermented to make red or white wine, it also produces sparkling wines such as Champagne.
2) The first bottle of champagne was created in 1722
The French are famous for their champagne and this is one of the main reasons that many people around the world associate them with wine. The first bottle of champagne was created in 1722 by French monk Dom Pérignon, who had perfected a method of fermenting grape juice in oak casks.
3) A few drops of water are added to red wines as they age
One of the most recognizable trademarks of quality French wine is that it is often blended with up to three different grape varieties before being bottled. This technique, which was first introduced in Burgundy in the late 19th century, helps create wines with complex layers of flavors and aromas, as well as a softer mouth feel and more balanced tannins.
4) In 1961, they started creating rosé in Australia
In 1961, the Australians started creating rosé wine, since it was a tradition that existed in Provence, France. Although Australian rosé is of a different style than traditional French rosé and the grapes used are predominantly from Shiraz or Grenache varieties, the lighter color, and sweeter taste have endeared the Aussies to this warmer-weather sipper.
5) Another name for champagne is sparkling wine
You may know champagne as a type of sparkling wine that comes from France, but you might not know that there is much more to the story. For starters, champagne doesn’t refer exclusively to French sparkling wine; it’s just one term for a category of sparklers. These wines are made by mixing white wine with sugar and yeast. This causes the mixture to ferment into a bubbly beverage with bubbles made of carbon dioxide gas rather than sulfur dioxide like in red or white wines.
6) Orange wines are made in Sardinia, Italy
As you probably know, France is one of the most prolific wine-producing regions in the world. But did you know that they don’t produce all of their wines in France? The country produces two types of wines, red and white. White wines are typically produced on the French mainland while reds are usually made in the Mediterranean region.
7) Young Bordeaux wines are meant to be consumed within 5 years
When you order a bottle of wine, you will often see a reference to the vintage. When ordering Bordeaux wines, the vintage refers to the year in which it was made (often from grapes harvested during a very specific time frame) and is meant to indicate the quality of that particular bottle. However, if you have ever wondered why young Bordeaux wines are so affordable, this is because they are meant to be consumed within 5 years or less.
8) A case of Beaujolais Nouveau must be drunk within 2 hours of being bottled
The wine is allowed to ferment up to 15%, but most wines ferment only 12-14%. Beaujolais Nouveau may not be drunk outside of the house that it was produced in for another 10 days after bottling. A case of Beaujolais Nouveau must be drunk within 2 hours of being bottled. When the first cases came off the production line on November 7th, 1955, there were bottles left over which weren’t sold by Christmas.
9) Provence, France is home to the longest lunch breaks (2–3 hours)
When was the last time you took a long lunch break? In France, many people take about two to three hours for lunch. It’s not uncommon to eat at 2 pm and return home at 4 pm. We’ve been told Americans are rude and unwilling to work hard, but what do you think now?
10) 99% of Sauternes come from Graves, France
- All sauternes come from Graves, France and 99% of these come from the Sauternes region.
- Graves was officially recognized as a wine-producing region in 1938.
- After six weeks or so of fermentation, wines destined for sauternes production are fortified with brandy to arrest any further fermentations so that they may develop their distinctive sweet flavors through oxidation and aging in the bottle.
- The yield is never more than 25% of vintage because these wines are meant to be consumed only after many years of aging when they will have developed their fullest sweetness; thus, good harvests generally indicate poor sauternes vintages.