France has been for centuries regarded as the premier wine-making country, and while that reputation has been challenged in recent decades by Spanish, American and Italian bottles, the French hold fast to the notion that their wine is second to none.
The French wine-making tradition traces its roots back to the sixth century B.C., when the area that is today southern France was settled by Greek colonists.
Unlike American wines, which are typically labeled according to the grape used (Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet), French wines are labeled according to where they were made. So all the noble French wines–Sancerre, Tavel, Chablis, Cote de Beaune–correspond to towns or regions where the wine is made.
The French believe that the soil where the grapes are grown is more important than the types of grapes used. This notion is called “terroir,” and it is fundamental to French wine.
French wine is not always expensive. A decent bottle of côtes-du-rhône can cost $5 or $6 in your local wine store.
Each year, the country produces eight billion bottles of wine.
The wines of France vary dramatically depending on the region, from fresh Corsican wines, which must be drunk young, to the noble wines of Bordeaux, which can mature over decades.