French Red Wines for Absolute Beginners
It is fair to say that some of the best red wines in the world are made in France. Here is an introduction to some of the most excellent red wines from France. Therefore, if you want to learn more on the topic, keep on reading.
They say that Cabernet Sauvignon is Gallic as garlic itself. That’s because even though sometimes it is aloof, it smells excellent, almost by default.
Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its opaque purple color, as well as its notes of blackcurrant, which are followed by aromas of sandalwood and cedar. In regards to its palate, it is high in both tannin and acid, and it is full-bodied.
Its native region is Bordeaux, but they never mention that on the wine labels.
Thanks to its firm structure, it can feel somewhat aloof. That is especially apparent when you drink it without any food. At the same time, that means it can age well. Therefore, a mature Cabernet Sauvignon combined with a premium stake can be a highly memorable experience.
This is one of those varieties that takes a lot of work and effort to grow it. Almost always, yields are modest, it needs a long and cool-season to ripen the right way, and it is prone to diseases.
Fortunately for all wine lovers, the Burgundy region hosts the optimal conditions for growing this exceptional variety.
The red Pinot Noir is a light-bodied wine featuring a touch of soft tannin, bright acidity, and color that can be either translucent garnet or ruby. In regards to its flavors, one can expect notes of strawberry, cranberry, and cherry. On the subtle side, there might be some notes of truffle oil and herby notes.
The home of Syrah is in the Northern Rhone Valley. This is a medium-bodied red wine featuring flavors of fresh bramble and spices that range from charred meat to pepper. Syrah is very often blended with Grenache and other varieties. Very often, Syrah is mistaken for Shiraz. Even though they are made from the same variety, there are some differences. For example, Syrah is characterized by a restrained and flagrant style, whereas Shiraz is jammy, ripe, and full-bodied.
One of the biggest misconceptions about red wines is that they cannot be as refreshing as white wines. In that regard, Gamay proves that it can compete with many lighter styles of wine.
This light-bodied red wine is high in acid and low in tannin, which is more typical for white wines rather than red wines. And that makes it so special. In terms of flavors, there is a strong presence of black cherry and blackcurrant.
As a result, it is a member of a really small club of red wines that can be consumed lightly chilled.
Even though French is the single most important ingredient in France’s top wines, it isn’t of French origin. It is a variety that initially comes from Spain.
Most of it is grown along the Languedoc-Roussillon region, as well as the southern parts of Rhone.
Grenache is a full-bodied wine that is low on tanning, high on alcohol, has low acidity, and features a pale color. As a result, with the purpose of getting more structure and color, winemakers blend it with varieties such as mourvèdre and Syrah.
Wines made with this variety tend to be high in alcohol (often above 15%), very hearty, and with a strong presence of dried herb aromas. The dried herb aromas are because of the garrigue that is often found in the vineyards with Grenache.
Merlot is by far the most widely planted variety in France. There are more than 115,000 hectares of Merlot. To put it in better perspective, that’s ten times the size of Paris.
Merlot is rarely used as a single variety and almost always as a blending wine. The main reason is that Merlot has only moderate amounts of acidity, has a strong presence of plum fruit flavor, and it feels somewhat soft. Thanks to those features, it feels incomplete as a stand-alone variety.
Most of the time, it is blended with Cabernet, which is very dark and is high on both acid and tannin.
However, when talking about Merlot, we cannot forget one of France’s most legendary wines, the Pétrus. It is made entirely of Merlot. The big misfortune is that one bottle of this superb wine costs staggering £2,000.