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« La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin »
(Life is too short to drink bad wine)
Ahh, wine… That marvellously magical liquid that we French absolutely love. Wine has been given many names: poetry in a bottle, the Nectar of the Gods, and so forth. Galileo called it sunlight held together by water. Personally, I think it’s WIN with an ‘e’ in the end. But no matter what you choose to call it, you simply cannot round off a French vacation without grabbing a bottle (or two, or three).
The home of the prestigious wine-making regions like Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne, some of the best wines in the world can be found here. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to spend a fortune to try really good wine. When in France, you can actually head over to the supermarket (where most French people get their wine) or visit a cavist or wine store, like Nicolas, where you can also find a great selection of reasonably priced wines.
Choosing a decent bottle at an economical price can be intimidating when you are faced the sheer variety available. But, as always, I’ll try my best to help. Here are some handy tips, whether you’re in a holiday in France, or simply planning to open a bottle in front of the TV:
Contrary to popular belief, screw caps are great, especially for white wine, because they keep the wine fresh longer and prevent the bottle from being infected by bacteria in the cork. For more information, click here
French wine labels generally state the region rather than the type of grape, so I recommend that you learn a little about the wine regions, just in case you prefer a Syrah over a Merlot. For example, if you are looking for a bottle of Chardonnay, find a label that mentions the Burgundy region.
There is definitely a relation between the two, but you can find a wide variety of good wine for a decent price, often under 10 euros (more on that later).
Don´t hesitate to ask for help. There´s always a designated staff expert ready and willing to help you choose a good wine that fits your budget.
Having said that, here´s a list of 10 great French wines you can find in France for under 10 euros.
Price: 9 euros
Perfect for those who love medium- to full-bodied red wine. This distinctive red is made from 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 12% Carignan, and small quantities of Cinsault, Counoise, and Mourvedre. It has a deep ruby colour and includes dark fruit such raspberry and blackberry, and is laced with white pepper, cinnamon spice, and leather. This is a versatile red wine that will go well with most white meat, aubergine dishes, mild cheeses, and vegetables.
Price: 5 euros
An absolute bargain! Made with Gamay grapes, this wine is light-bodied and dry red. It´s a juicy wine, with an aromas of cherries. On the palate, you´ll also find yourself tasting a mixture of berries with a hint of pepper on the finish.
This is your perfect everyday red wine for washing down pastas, pizzas, and meat dishes for lunch or dinner.
Price: 10 euros
A light-bodied red wine, this Pinot Noir is characterised by its aromatic complexity and mild tannins. From the Burgundy region, it’s a brilliant cherry red with cherry and black cherry aromas along with hints of lime and mint and a bit of toasted oak on the finish.
A deliciously fruity Pinot Noir, that is very easy to drink and goes well with grilled or roasted red meats, light game, poultry, and mild cheeses.
Price: 5 euros
A great everyday white wine that’s so refreshing! Clear and bright with a pale lemon colour and a presence of legs when swirled in the glass. On the nose you’ll smell intense aromas of lemon peel, green apples, fresh peaches, and also hints of vanilla, neutral white flower, and mint.
This Blanc is dry on the mouth with a medium- acidity and body. On the palate you’ll also taste lemon peel, green apple, peaches, and even some citrus fruits. It’s modestly priced, and as mentioned, it’s a great everyday wine to enjoy on a nice sunny day. If you want to pair it with something, it goes well with dried fruits, nuts, lighter fare, and summer salads.
Price: 8 euros
Don’t be fooled by the screwcap! Far from your typical buttery Chardonnay or herbal Sauvignon Blanc, this crispy, dry “vin de pays” (country wine) from Gascony is a fresh and easy to drink wine. It’s made with less familiar varietals such as UgniBlacn, and Colombard. This delicious, light, and crisp white has the aroma of pear and citrus fruits. On the palate you’ll taste lemon, grapefruit, orange blossom, and pear.
Originating from Southwest France, this white wine pairs well with lighter fare, white fish, chicken, and spring vegetables.
Price: 10 euros
This delightful dry white wine is meant to be drunk young, cool, and fresh. Its golden green hue gives off scents of light citrus, newly cut hay, and minerals. On your palate you’ll taste citrus, melon, and mineral concentrations.
This Bordeaux Sec is extremely well-balanced and has a lingering finish, perfect as an aperitif, but is also delightful with fish and shellfish. You won’t find many other great dry white wines for so little!
Price: 9 euros
No summer afternoon is complete without a bit of a pretty, light, peach hued rosé from the Provence region. It’s light to medium-bodied and predominately made from Syrah with a bit of Grenache Noir and Cinsault varietals. Aromas in this wine include citrus, peach, grass, strawberry, as well as floral notes. On the palate you’ll find yourself tasting herbs, grass, and berry; it’s similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, but stronger in flavour!
This Syrah blend is delightful on its own but also pairs well with beef, lamb, and mature and hard cheeses.
Price: 10 euros
Costieres de Nimes is the most southerly appellation of the Rhone region, and wines from this region are reputed to have been consumed by the Ancient Greeks, and therefore count among the oldest known wines in the world. Remember that while you drink this rosé!
This rosé is a gorgeous red raspberry colour and a blend of Grenache and Syrah. It is spicy and bold on the nose, yet medium-bodied and surprisingly fresh on the palate. You’ll taste flavours of red fruits such as plum, cherries, and strawberries, along with black pepper on the finish.
Like most rosés, it’s spectacular by itself, but it also goes well with summer salads, grilled tuna, oysters, and even sushi!
Price: 9.80 euros
A perfect alternative to Champagne, this Cremant from the Burgundy region is made from Pinot Noir, and Gamay grapes, with hints of Aligote and Chardonay grapes. It’s a dry, light-bodied wine with the delicious aromas of almond, lemon, and crisp apple. The palate is melon rich with crisp apple at the end.
This mouth-watering, sparkling white wine, with elegant bubbles and a persistent finish pairs well with cold meats, grilled fish, and even pastries. And, like most Cremants and Champagnes, it´s also a perfect aperitif by itself!
Price: 7 euros
This hard to resist Cremant Rose is appetising and truly great value. The four grape varieties include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Aligote. This bubbly pink Cremant offers an explosion of intense flavours on the nose and on the palate of berries, and white peach flavours. It has a lengthy finish that is very impressive for a Rosé.
It´s an awesome sipper on its own, but if you want to accompany it, it´s ideal for light meals such as grilled fish or white meats. If you´re interested in pairing it with something sweet, this rosé goes great with red fruit desserts.
So there you have it –a few pointers for purchasing wine, as well as 10 splendid wines to try for under 10 euros. And oh, in case you’re wondering, that stereotype about French men drinking wine all day? Totally a myth.
Have you tried any of the wines mentioned? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.
Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +