3 Tips on Getting into French Wine

Learn about French wine by what grapes they grow and see 2 more tips that will greatly improve your ability to find and drink awesome French wine. If you know and love some French wine and want to know more, access our free French wine guides at the bottom of this article.

3 Tips on Getting into French Wine

Jeff Garneau Bordeaux Tasting
Dream job! Jeff Garneau tasting Bordeaux.

The biggest barrier to the eager novice of French wine is the lack of varietal labeling. The French appellation system seems needlessly opaque to Americans, most of whom are accustomed to seeing the name of the grape dominating the label rather than the region of origin. My advice to them, as with all things related to wine, is to start simply, and learn as you go. Jeff Garneau, Bordeaux Guy at K&L Wines

Begin with a varietal you already know and love.

Thanks to the French influence on American winemaking, most French grapes are already familiar to us here in the United States. Finding what grape variety you’re drinking will provide an easy entry into the world of French wine.

A simplified map of the most popular wines from each region. This is just the tip of the iceberg, keep exploring!
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Don’t spend a lot of money up front.

While it’s true that there are famous French wines that are sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars a bottle, you can do very well for $20 or less. In the best vintages, wines in the $10 to $20 range can be very good indeed! Jeff Garneau, Bordeaux Guy at K&L Wines

VINTAGE TIP: Vintage matters with French wine. 2 popular vintage charts to bookmark are Berry Brother’s and Rudd and Robert Parker.

Choose a knowledgeable partner to help guide you.

Find a local wine shop with a good selection of French wines and a patient and willing staff who share your enthusiasm and passion. While it’s fine to explore on your own, a wine savvy professional can help you avoid the pitfalls of label confusion and vintage variation. Once you find a wine you really love, they can direct you to other, similar wines you may enjoy.

A great wine retailer is both knowledgeable and not-at-all snobby.

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Already love French Wine?

Check out our detailed free guides on the most popular French wine regions. The guides include maps, classification system breakdowns and tips on finding great value. You’ll never be confused in a French wine aisle again.

Special thanks to Jeff Garneau for his great an unsnobbish approach to getting into French Wine!

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly