The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, is largely considered the day that helped spark the French Revolution. Similar to the 4th of July in The United States, Bastille Day ( la Fête nationale) is a French holiday celebrated annually on July 14th. With parades, fireworks, and parties, the motto chanted in this celebration is, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity).
Let’s honor Bastille Day with a trip through France’s unique and delicious wines.
Famous French Wine Regions
Wine and spirits are produced nearly everywhere in France and as most of you know, there are six notable wine regions:
- Bordeaux: This area produces a lot of deep red wines that boast earthy flavors and aromas like smoke, tobacco leaf, tar, leather, and truffle.
- Burgundy: Winemaking started here in the 1300s and the word “Burgundian” is synonymous with the high-quality taste of wines and excellent wine area. This area is famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- Champagne: Because of its strict production practices, this is the only pace in the world that produces Champagne – the rest are just sparkling wines. Wines of note here are made from the pinot meunier, pinot blanc, and pinot noir grapes.
- Loire Valley: This area is known for its pale reds and whites, most notably made from the versatile Chenin Blanc grape.
- The Rhone Valley: The second largest wine growing region in France. The famous wines made in this rich region are: Hermitage, Cote-Rotie, and Beaumes-de-Venise.
- Alsace: Located on the border of Germany and France The white wines here are very similar to German Rieslings, just a touch drier. They also have Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer, and Sylvaner.
French Wine Fun Facts
- France produced 42.2 million hectoliters of wine in 2020, which is about 16% of the world’s wine. Italy is the only country in the world that produces more wine than France, at 49.1 million hectoliters.
- The first Champagne was created by clergyman Dom Pérignon while he was experimenting with new winemaking methods. He claimed to have said, “Come quickly, I’m drinking stars.”
- A mixture of Bordeaux wine and coca leaves was the inspiration for Coca-Cola.
- While other countries label their wine based on the grapes used, France labels its wine in accordance with the soil in which they are grown. Grapes that originated in France include Chardonnay, Cabernet, Malbec, Cinsault, and Merlot.
- In 1860, a microscopic insect destroyed nearly all of France’s vineyards. To this day, many of France’s wine regions are half of their original size before the outbreak. For a quick history of the Great Wine Blight, check out this video from The History Guy.
- Since 1855, the The Médoc Classification (a system designed to rank Bordeaux wines) was unveiled by Napoleon III, and it has been used – and largely remained unchanged – since.
Classic French Wine and Food Pairings
Traditionally, French wine was always served with food. It is only recently that we have started to drink wine on it’s own. In honor of that, here are some popular French dishes and their perfect wine pairings.
- Soupe à l’oignon, or French onion soup, has been a staple since Roman times. Once you find and prepare your favorite recipe, pair this delicious dish with viognier or pinot gris.
- Coq au vin, another French dish, popularized by Julia Child, consists of chicken braised with wine, mushrooms, pork or bacon, onions, garlic, and occasionally a drop of brandy. Try this top-notch recipe with pinot noir or your favorite light-to-medium bodied French red.
- Cassoulet is a French comfort food made using white beans stewed with meat, typically pork or duck. Once you’ve prepared your pork cassoulet, it’s best served alongside marcillac for red wine lovers, or a Côtes du Rhône for those who prefer white wine.
For more on French wine, its history, and notable varieties you should be trying, we’d recommend reading Vino Vest’s Ultimate Guide to French Wine Regions (2021). Don’t forget to let us know if you discover any new favorites on your wine tasting tour of France!
Drink in French History and French Wine
How are you celebrating Bastille Day? We think a French feast and wine tasting sounds divine.
Vinloq’s Slow Decanting™ and Wine Preservation System is perfect for showcasing the many notes inside your new French wines or your old favorites. Several bottles of wine can be opened and Slow Decanted™ each passing day, unlocking new tasting notes in every glass you pour.