The majority of American wine consumers, pretty much everyone who casually drinks wine, are familiar with at least one or two wines from France, but that’s about as far as it goes. And in all likelihood, those wines have names like Bordeaux and Burgundy. After that, most wine drinkers are unfamiliar with all of the other French wines available on the market. Yet a lot of restaurants, wine bars and stores assume everyone is familiar with the myriad French wines available. There’s a disconnect.
In fact, we think many wine enthusiasts (those people that often own those bars and wine shops and make up about 12% of the American drinking population) would be surprised to learn that most wine drinkers are not familiar with many of the French wines they know so well. And we’re not talking about a super obscure wine from the Jura. Here are six wines from France with which most consumers are unfamiliar:
While Argentine Malbec is one of the most popular red wines on the American market, most consumers have no idea that Malbec is also grown in France (where the grape originated) and that the Cahors region, from which this wine takes its name, is very well known for producing great quality stuff. Cahors is Malbec, just the old school original (and under a different name).
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Sure a lot of wine consumers know that red Burgundy is 100% Pinot Noir, but most have no idea that Sancerre Rouge is as well. White Sancerre, the wine we also call Sauvignon Blanc, is a bit obscure to mainstream consumers too, but it’s very possible they’ve at least come in contact with that wine, yet Sancerre Rouge still remains a mystery. More people should know about it, as it’s a great, affordable option when looking to drink French Pinot.
We love to sing the praises of Gamay – the grape used to make Beaujolais – as a great substitute for Pinot Noir, but most drinkers are unfamiliar with it. They may have heard of Beaujolais Nouveau, the young version of the wine that gets trotted out each Thanksgiving, but true Beaujolais is still unknown to most people. Made in the Burgundy region of France, we like to think of Beaujolais as a wonderful little secret for anyone seeking an affordable wine from one of France’s most famous regions.
If you drink a lot of Bordeaux, you’ve probably come in contact with Cabernet Franc – the grape used to make Chinon – and not even known it, as Cabernet Franc is often the third grape used in creating the Bordeaux blend after Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc creates a spicy red wine that has flavors of green pepper and aromas of tobacco and violet. In Chinon, the region for which this wine is named, it sings.
While wine drinkers may have at least heard of the Rhone Valley of France, many are unfamiliar with this famous wine from the valley’s most famous region. Red Hermitage is made from 100% Syrah, which is known for its aging capabilities and rich aromas of leather, coffee and red berries. It’s basically the wine responsible for spreading Syrah across the world.
Muscadet is a dry, crisp wine that, due to its name, is often confused with the sweet grape Muscat. This confusion causes most wine drinkers looking for a dry white wine to miss out on one they’ll probably love. Muscadet is made in the Loire Valley from the Melon de Bourgogne grape and is perfect for drinking with seafood.
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