Ultimate Guide to French Wines

French Wine Regions

France isn't famous for merely one kind of wine. The varieties produced in France seem almost endless. The most common French wine regions are Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Provence and the Rhone Valley [source: Tasting Wine]. The type of wine that each region is known for depends on that area's terroir. Terroir is the term for a wine-making region's characteristics, such as soil composition, weather, the type of grapes that grow there and wine-making techniques [source: French Wine Guide]. France's geography allows it to have several wildly different terroirs, which results in several wildly different kinds of wine. Read below for information on the more famous wine regions of France:

  • Alsace - One of the smallest wine regions in France, it's found in the Northeast. Alsace is known for its dry, sweet white wines like Riesling.
  • Bordeaux - An Atlantic Coast region in the southwest of France, this region is known for the full to medium body red wines it produces, such as Cabernet-Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bordeaux is said to produce more than a third of all the wine from France.
  • Burgundy - Found south of Paris, Burgundy is known for both its red and white wines, including Chardonnay. Like Alsace, Burgundy's hot summers and cold winters are ideal for grape growing.
  • Champagne - Possibly the most famous wine region in the world, Champagne is located in Northeast France and is known for its sparkling wines. Its summers are not as warm as other regions and its winters are more mild. This, coupled with the chalky soil, make it ideal for sparkling wine.
  • Languedoc-Roussillon - Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the largest regions of France. It's known for a wide range of red wines, including Merlot.
  • Loire - A valley as well-known for its beauty as for its legendary white wines, Loire has winters that range from mild to cold and summers that vary from mild to warm.
  • Provence - In the Southeast of France, Provence is known for its rose wines. Grapes like Cinsult and Rolle grow well in the mild winters and hot summers.
  • Rhone Valley - South of Lyon, the Rhone Valley stretches to the Mediterranean Sea. It's less known for a particular wine than it is for growing an incredibly diverse range of wines [Source: Tasting Wine].

For more information, visit the links below -- then sip away!

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Tasting Wine. "French Wine Regions." Morefocus Group, Inc. (Jan. 25, 2009)http://www.tasting-wine.com/articles/wine-regions-and-areas/french-wine-regions/index.php
  • French Wine Guide. "French Wine Regions." Terroir-france.com, Webmaster-Now. (Jan. 25, 2009)http://www.terroir-france.com/wine/regions.htm
  • French Wine Guide. "Terrior Definition." Terroir-france.com, Webmaster-Now. (Jan. 25, 2009)http://www.terroir-france.com/theclub/meaning.htm
  • eZine Articles. "The History of French Wine." ezinearticles.com. (Jan. 25, 2009)http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-French-Wine&id=408804
  • LaMar, Jim. " Appellations d'Origine Controlee | Vincyclopedia." Vincyclopedia, Professional Friends of Wine, Winepro.org. (Jan. 25, 2009)http://www.winepros.org/wine101/vincyc-aoc.htm