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wedding toast Wine costs vary significantly in France; especially when you consider the price tags attached to top Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. However France is rife with bargains too. There is plenty of wine from less expensive areas which are less laborious  to produce and are, therefore, a bit easier on the back pocket.

So when some friends asked me for advice on how to buy good French wine to serve at their wedding, for between £6-10  ($10-16 US) per bottle, I needed to do two things to set them on the right path:

1) Give them a crash course in reading a French wine label
2) Steer them away from well known wine regions in order to find the best value for their budget

French labels are not simple. But here are the basics of understanding what is on the front of the bottle:

French Wine is traditionally named after the region where it is produced, Bordeaux for example. To legally add the region to the label rules must be followed in the vineyard and winery that ensure the wine is of a certain quality. These rules also include permitted grape varieties. What makes it complicated is the sheer number of designated regions which all have different rules.

Below are recommendations of good value French wine listed by region. The region will be listed on the bottle amongst the words Appellation Contrôlée (AC).

The region will be listed on the bottle amongst the words Appellation Contrôlée (AC).

The region will be listed on the bottle amongst the words Appellation Contrôlée (AC).

White Wine Recommendations:

Chardonnay:

Petit Chablis AC: is tangy and light, with notes of lemon and green apple. It pairs especially well with seafood and makes a great aperitif.

Chablis AC: is a very similar style to Petit Chablis AC, but the grapes come from better vineyards, thus are more expensive; but if you’re lucky you will find some Chablis AC to fit this price bracket.

Mâcon AC: offers soft but full flavours of juicy peach and tropical fruits. As it has spent time in contact with charred oak it smells of toast and baking spices too. You’ll even find some buttery aromas in this one. It is a great match for roasted goodies.

Sauvignon Blanc:

Menetou-Salon AC, Touraine AC*: will be found in the Loire section of the wine shop. Production costs are low as this wine sees only hand-me-down barrels or no oak at all. These Sauvs have plenty of mouth-watering citrus and herbal flavours. They are great aperitifs and pair well with salads and lighter summery cuisine.

Red Wine Recommendations:

Gamay:

Beaujolais AC: is vibrant, full of sweet red berry aromas and best drunk while it is young. It is easy to enjoy on a warm afternoon or at cocktail hour, and due to its light colour it won’t turn your teeth purple. It pairs nicely with lighter foods; heavy meals are likely to overpower it.

GSM: (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre are commonly blended together and referred to as GSM)

Côtes du Rhône AC: is a Grenache dominated blend of grape varieties. It bursts with intense ripe berry flavours. It is strongly coloured and considerably easy to drink. It is also great with grilled meats.

Côtes du Roussillon AC, Languedoc AC, Minervois AC, Pays d’Oc IGP**: are all located in Southern France, where more bang-for-buck wines are readily available. They use oodles of grape varieties throughout the greater area, and the appellation contrôlée quality control system is frequently overlooked by creative producers who invent their own rules as they go. Sure, there is some less-than-spectacular wine being produced there, but if you are up for a bargain hunt you’re likely to stumble across a gem.

wedding table

In your search, save yourself time by asking your local wine shop guru for specific recommendations and try a few different bottles before you commit to one for the big day.

If you’re interested in some more French wine suggestions, whether it’s for your wedding day or to try at home, message me in the comments section below or get in touch via Twitter.

*Touraine AC: in rare cases it is made using the Chenin Blanc grape instead of Sauvignon Blanc. It will usually have a varietal indication like Appellation Touraine Sauvignon Contrôlée to indicate the variety.
**Pays d’Oc IGP: These wines are made outside of the Appellation Contrôlée regulations and are usually labeled by grape variety

2 Responses to “French wedding wine on a budget”

  1. […] French wine is traditionally named after the place it is from rather than the predominant grape in t…. So if you want to buy a bottle of French Malbec, look out for the word ‘Cahors’ on the label. […]

  2. Paul says:

    Thanks for the tips, Lindsay. Always great!

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