Wine - the pride of the French

(VOVworld) - France produces 7 to 8 billion bottles of wine per year, which amounts to 20% of the world’s production. Wine is part of French culture, where buying a bottle is a ceremony and tasting is an art. Let’s find out more in VOV’s Culture Rendezvous about what makes its wine drinking culture the pride of the French.  
France has been the largest wine producer in the world for decades. French wine traces its history back to the 6th century BC, with many of France’s regions dating their wine-making history to Roman times. By the mid 19th century, its wine industry enjoyed a golden period of prosperity. The 1855 classification of Bordeaux became one of the world’s most famous ranking of wine estates. Today, the French wine industry has been a pioneer for the world wine industry, with many of its wines considered to be the perfect benchmark. From Bordeaux to Burgundy, from the Loire Valley to the Rhone Valley and beyond, the wine treasures of France are plentiful. Yoan Guyon, a French engineer, who has been living in Vietnam for 5 years, said:“When we think about French culture, the first thing that we think about is the wine. The famous places that produce wine are the Alsace on the east of France, near Germany, Bourgogne near Lyon, Bordeaux on the west of France, Burgundy on the east, Champaign around Paris, the Savoy, Provence in southwest of France, and Normandie.”

France is the source of many grape varieties that are now planted throughout the world, including both internationally well-known and local varieties. Most varieties of grapes are primarily associated with a certain region. Guyon elaborates:“Some of the grapes are only grown on some locations, for example the Cabernet Sauvignon is mainly produced in Bordeaux, and there is no Cabernet Sauvignon in Burgundy. The Chardonnay is mostly found in Burgundy. A few famous varieties that you may know are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot.” 

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Grapes freshly harvested and collected in a barrel, destined to become wine.(Photo:CNN)

When it comes to French wine, people often talk about the “terroir”, which is the wine’s expression of the place from where it came. It may be a variety of things that influence the vine, including the type of soil it’s grown in, the slope and elevation of the vineyard, as well as the climate and weather. Even in the same area, no two vineyards have exactly the same terroir. When the same grape variety is planted in different regions, it can produce wines that are significantly different from each other. Guyon talks about the way to classify French wine:“We define the wine with a few criteria like the sweetness, the acidity, the tannin, the fruit and the buddy of the wine. The three famous types of wine are the red, the white, and the rosé. We drink red wine when we eat at restaurants with red meat, and we drink the white one when we eat seafood and fish.”

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The three types of wine: red, white, and rosé (Photo:

The grapes used in the making of the wine have their own natural sugars and yeasts and other important chemicals. During the fermentation process, the grapes undergo a change in their chemicals balances, which makes the wine so special. Bouillet Geoffrey is in charge of management of service and kitchen at Bistro Boutique French restaurant in Hanoi:“The French wine is only grape. Nothing’s inside. Sometimes in the white wine, we put a small proportion of sulfites. Because if we put nothing in the white wine, it’s more difficult to keep its quality. But, for the red, we put nothing. It’s 100% grape. The rosé, or the pink wine, is very fresh, which is suitable to use before eating. Sometimes women prefer the rosé than the red.”

French wines have more of a regional than national identity, as evidenced by the different grape varieties, production methods and different classification systems in the various regions. Quality levels and prices vary enormously. Guyon said:“Every year there is a top ranking of the most expensive wine. Last year, the most expensive wine was a French wine from Burgundy. One bottle is on average 15,000$. But good wines are not specifically expensive. You have some very good bottles of wine for around 10$. Wine is affordable for everybody.”

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A case of 12 bottles of 1988 vintage Romanée-Conti, which goes on sale at an auction in Geneva this Sunday, is estimated to be worth around £140,000. The scarcity and supreme quality is what gives Romanée-Conti its mystique and high value (Photo: ALAMY)

The one thing that most French wines have in common is that the wine is always served with food. Guyon again:“It’s a tradition in France. Wine is the best drink you can get for dinner or for a good meal. I drink a lot of Bourgogne, which is the wine produced on the north of Lyon, my city. It’s not a way to get drunk, it’s a way of tasting, and it’s more to appreciate the wine. I would say it’s taste, appreciation and community.”

To the French, wine is more than just a drink. They make it, they consume large quantities of it and they produce some of the best in the world. It is even officially designated as part of the nation’s cultural and gastronomic heritage.  Over the last 150 years, French wine making has been totally revolutionized as an art and a science, thanks to its excellence and diversity.