Monday, March 31, 2014

How can you tell which grapes are in French wines?

So I am given a glass of a light red wine, and before tasting "It's pinot noir!" I exclaim. "No, it isn't" my friend replies, with the knowledge of having chosen it for me to blind taste as practice for my WSET Advanced course.

"Oh, well what is it..." I ponder. Right, lets do this properly.
Appearance: light intensity, ruby, clear, med legs.
Nose: Clean, med+ intensity, developed.
Aromas: raspberry, cherry, plum, strawberry, rosehip, strawberry sweets, cherry jolly rancher.
Mouth: low intensity, dry, low acidity, low tannin, light body, medium alcohol
Flavours: strawberry, cherry, plum.
Quality: short length, acceptable quality, drink now not for ageing, inexpensive.

OK, so its not pinot noir... grenache? a rubbish pinotage? sangiovese? none of them make sense.

What is it? Roncier Burgundy 12.5% Vin de France. Ah! An understandable mistake - my friend doesn't realise that Burgundy is pinot noir, "it doesn't say it on the label". One of the "tricks" about French wine is that they expect you to know whats in the bottle from the minimal labelling terms they use. This is a common mistake.

As a basic rule of thumb:
Burgundy red = pinot noir
Burgundy white = chardonnay
Chablis = chardonnay
Beaujolais = gamay
Rhone red = syrah (aka Shiraz)
Bordeaux red = cabernet sauvignon and merlot
Loire white = chenin blanc or sauvignon blanc

Hope that helps!
Let me know if you need to know others and I'll put together a more comprehensive list.

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