Decoding French Wine Labels, Regions, Phrases, and Tips for Ordering Wine in France and its guide

Knowing how to buy wine in France requires far more than a few “essential phrases” from a travel guide. Because French wine labels are nearly hard to interpret if you don’t speak French (or know anything about wine).

Although many French wine labels skip the area entirely and just include the producer and appellation (see wine terminology below for more information), it’s still useful to start with a bird’s-eye perspective of France’s most famous wine regions.


The only region in the world Champagne can legally call home.

Champagne wine is made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier & Chardonnaa


This region is famous for its Gamay (and sometimes even sparkling Gamay), one of the lightest, simplest styles of red


  •  Wine From Rhône
  • The Rhône valley runs from north to south along the Rhône River in southeastern France. It encompaces two fairly distinct regions, each with different climates and grapes.
  • The Northern Rhône is smaller and cooler continental with granite soils.Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Hermitage, and St-Joseph are noteworthy syrah-based red wines. These wines are smoky, meaty, and violet-olive. Northern Rhône viognier, marsanne, and roussanne blends provide wide, low-acid whites with orchard fruit aromas.. The Northern Rhône produces about 5% of Rhône wine, most of very high quality.
  • The Southern Rhône is almost ten times the size of its northern neighbor, and has a warmer Mediterraean
  • climate and more varied terrain. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the Southern Rhône’s most famous appellation, known for bold, high alcohol reds made from up to thirteen different grape varieties. Basic red Côtes du Rhône wine, which accounts for more than half of Rhône wine production, is based on grenache, syrah and mourvèdre, with cinsault and carignan playing smaller roles. This blended red is classic medium-bodied bistro wine, full of ripe red fruit and herbal notes. White wines from the Southern Rhône are usually a blend of soft, fruity white grapes like grenache blanc, roussanne, clairette, and picpoul.The southern edge of the Rhône region touches Provence to the east and the Languedoc-Roussillon region to the west.

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