We Americans have several hang ups regarding the French and their wonderful wines.
Here's a little history on the subject:
1. There has been a strong anti-French political bias in this country dating back to the first gulf war. Some people even went so far as to start eating "American Fries" with their burgers and milkshakes.
2. Americans generally are uncomfortable acknowleding the role that the French played in America gaining our independence and eventual achieving the status of world's super power.
3. Most American wine consumers are hesitant to appreciate the role that our French brethren played in developing the American wine industry, especially in California.
4. To be fair, the French don't exactly make it easy for us to understand their wine culture and corresponding laws. In fact, I believe they rather enjpy the mystery we must try and solve when diving into French wine.
All of this adds up to one big conundrum. If you love wine you must strive to understand and enjoy the beauty of Burgundy, the bredth of Bordeaux and the majesty of Champagne, not to mention the 100 other intricate and dynamic French regions dotting the country.
Here's some tips for understanding French wine labels:
1. Look for a clue about the government designation. Words like "Vin de Pays" or "Vin de Table" and then google what those designations mean.
2. Decipher the region by looking for the word "Appellation", this will indicate the quality designation and in most cases the region. "Appellation d'Origine Controlee" is the desgination of highest quality wine in France.
3. Find the name of the winery. Look for words like "Mise en Bouteille au Chateau" means the wine was bottled by the producer. "Grand Vin" means that the wine is the main wine made by that winemaker.
Now that you can understand the labels, here's a look at five nice French wines you can enjoy at home:
1. 2009 Chateau Blaisson d'Issan Boedeaux $40
2. 2010 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Village $18
3. 2012 Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone $24
4. 2009 Chateau Plaisance Bordeaux $35
5. 2006 Brunel "Les Cailloux" Chateauneuf-du-Pape $55
Enjoy these wondeful wines with some cheeses and fresh fruit. If you can't find these, try some others from our local retailers and restuarants. Bon Apetite!