Quick Introduction to French Wines

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Looks fantastic doesn’t it? A little Burgundy… A little Chablis… But let’s back up a bit and get a better sense of the history of these gems.

In the 50’s and 60’s many California wineries began producing what came to be known as jug red wine Burgundy and jug white wine Chablis. This was a huge misnomer. Why? Because those two terms reflect geographic locations in France and the grapes used in the jug California wines are not the same varieties used in those areas. Let me explain a bit further…

France has a very strict set of wine laws and certifications called the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). These laws were implemented in the 1860’s after a 10 year study, complete with hearings and meetings all over the country. Within the body of laws it so stated that only the Chardonnay grape was allowed to be used in any bottle of white wine from the Chablis district. In the same vein, any bottle of red wine labeled Burgundy must be made from the Pinot Noir grape. The AOC had many other laws pertaining to the varieties, place names, and even foods such as cheeses and butters. This was to protect the economic importance of wine making etc. in the French system. Unfortunately for wine connoisseurs, the United States did not enter the League Of Nations (1920 – 1946) whereby doing so would have had the grape growers of our country following these laws. This allowed wine manufacturing and labeling to go unchecked in this country until recently. Finally, in the ’60s, many of the finer wine growers from California began lobbying for a similar set of laws for this country. Slowly, a set of rules have been implemented to emulate the AOC of France. This is one of the ways consumers can be protected from the few but unscrupulous scammers of the industry.

Just keep in mind, that not every bottle of Chablis is necessarily a bottle of chablis and not every bottle of burgundy is necessarily a bottle of Burgundy.

‘Til next time, I’ll see you in the racks,


P.S. Click on this link for a complete list of AOC wines.

P.P.S. A more detailed history of American wine can be found here.


2 Responses to Quick Introduction to French Wines

  1. illena Mills says:

    Thx Bruce… Keep me in the loop!!
    It’s because of you that I love wine!!

  2. […] the Wine, Have a Beer! Enough of this “French Wine Talk“! How about a little working-class discussion of beer?!? […]

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