France’s wine culture was underscored when during the COVID-19 lockdown, liquor stores were included as one of several essential businesses allowed to continue. Whereas in other countries, like the U.K. and the U.S., it took a month before the respective governments had decided to allow liquor stores, as well as bars and restaurants, to sell wines and spirits; but only by way of alcohol delivery services.
Unlike in the U.S. where alcoholic beverages were part of a dark history that gave rise to bootlegging, moonshining, speakeasies and gangster wars during the Prohibition era, wine drinking and production are very much parts of France’s development as a highly cultural nation. Depicting a French person holding a glass or bottle of wine is not regarded as derogatory, but a symbol of cultural sophistication. France, after all, is one of the world’s leading producers of wine and spirits.
As a matter of fact, wine production is a national pride because it also means having the best soil and climate to support an elite and at the same time, successful industry.
A Cursory Look at France’s Wine Production
Currently, France is ranked as the largest producer of wine in terms of volume; annually producing as much as 50 to 60 million hectolitres, or an equivalent of 7 to 8 billion bottles That is mainly because nearly all regions in France are engaged in wine production.
Most reputable French wines are categorized according to the region that produced them, which is often indicated in lowercase letters such as bordeaux, bourgogne (burgundy), champagne or médoc. Further distinction is made by adding the specific location of the wine producer in a region; e.g. Saint-Emilion bordeaux.
Although the French government does not impose hard and fast rules in matters of wine production, the European Union Commission applies certain legislation in relation to the branding of French wines. A classic example is the term “champagne,” which the EU insists must only be attached to a brand of sparkling wine if the product came from the Champagne region; because the process of producing sparkling wine originated from that region.
French wine comes in three main varieties: vin rouge (red), vin blanc (whit), and rose (rosé).. The variations are based on the color of the grapes used in producing wines, although regardless of color, a French wine’s reputation is often associated to the region. The reason behind this thinking is the concept of “terroIr,” which suggests that the natural environmental factors of a region such as soil, climate and topography contribute to the quality of a wine’s taste and flavor.
When it comes to alcohol drinking habit, many in France have a penchant for drinking wine when having their meal. Yet despite the affordability and availability of wine and liquor in the country, alcoholism is not a major problem. Generally, drinking in moderation is part of the sophistication of France’s wine-drinking culture.