Tasting French wines can be intimidating but a few, easy tips can transform you from an ingénue into a connoisseur.
“First thing to remember when trying French wine is terroir, not the grape,” said sommelier Oliver Mangy with O Chateau Wine Tasting in Paris. “Each region is noted for specific wines although winemakers don’t put the name of the varietal on the label.”
Housed in a building that dates from the 1700, the O Chateau offers wine and cheese lunchs, a tour of French wines and other options for tourists and locals.
Here are some more facts: There are 90,000 wine producers in France and 100,000 labels. The average French wine drink spends about $7 on average for a bottle.
There are the three basic wine tasting techniques,” Mangy said. “First is look (“Lo Robe”) which means the wine has to be clear. Brightness shows acidity, the color of the wine edges reveals the age of your wine and viscosity or denseness will show alcohol or sugar concentration.”
Second is the smell or “Le Bouquet”. The first nose should ask ‘Is it nice, is it open is there a problem’. After swirling, inhale the aromas and define the intensity of the second nose.
“The third step is taste ‘La Bouche’,” he said. “Is it warm, acidic, astringent? Is it balanced or leaning towards one side? The body of the wine unveils its very substance and brings the question of pairing it with food. The final attack is the aftertaste. How long does it last, is it flat or do you notice variations?”
Finally, here are some useful tips about drinking order: Start with whites to reds, from dry to sweet for whites from light to strong for reds from cheap to expensive …and then back.
If all else fails to find the perfect wine from the perfect region just remember for light white go North and for strong wines go South.