It's been said that the wine lover's journey always ends in France. That is for good reason: nowhere in the world is there a broader selection of quality wine styles that reflect the country's culture and terroir.
But, every French wine region has its own quirks, and the wine laws, terminology and styles can vary significantly among regions. Some regions have unique wine quality classification systems while others have nothing other than the basic French wine quality designations of table wine, IGP and AOC. For example, a Burgundy Grand Cru is the highest quality, and a bottle will be shockingly expensive. In contrast, in the St. Emilion region of Bordeaux, grand cru is an appellation rather than an indication of quality; Grand Cru Classé is a quality ranking within the classification system, which is divided into Grand Cru Classé A (the highest quality) and Grand Cru Classé B. Some regions put the grape name on the label, while most list the appellation. Got it?
Not to worry. Wine Concepts provides courses that demystify French wines. The goal is not to make you an expert -- that can take years of study for each region. Rather, it's to provide an understanding the basics of French wines so that you'll be comfortable ordering an appropriate selection from a wine list or your wine shop. But more than that, the idea is to introduce you to a broad range of French wines that you enjoy. For those that can't attend a course in the Austin, Texas area, we provide some helpful resources here.
The Wines of France is a two-part course that focuses on six essential regions: Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley, the Loire, Alsace and Champagne. Each segment lasts roughly one hour, and we'll sample four typical wines. For each of these regions you'll learn:
- A brief background and history of the region.
- Typical wine styles.
- Key appellations in the region. What to expect from those regions, and what to look for on the wine list or in your wine shop.
- Some producers that you can rely on.
- Some basic pairings.