Ode to French Wine

When you think of wine you probably think of France and Napa Valley.  For many centuries the only thing you thought of when it came to wine was France.  France has a long history in the wine making business and a world wide reputation.  Here are a few interesting facts you probably didn’t know about French Wine.

French Wine

1 –  France Didn’t Invent Wine…

Wine making started way back to well before France was a thing.  The Egyptians were making wine and it was quite popular and was a stable of the Romans who turned it into the more refined approach to wine we are familiar with.  The Greek brought wine to Gaul where it eventually became a true gastronomic art form in the area around Marseille France (formerly Massala) and took off from there.

2 – Champagne was invented by a monk

The venerable Dom Pérignon was a monk loved the art of making wine and experimenting with new ideas.  He accidentally produced a new type of wine in the late 17th century.  He apparently was quite excited and exclaimed “I am drinking stars!”.  The French monastic orders such as the Cistercians and Benedictines contributed significantly to the art and process of making wine.  Their chief focus was for liturgical mass but the result was preserving and improving wine making processes.

3 – Wine is the ancestor of Coca- Cola

It might just be a distant aunt or uncle but still related.  Angelo Mariani who was a French chemist who was very interested the health value of coca leaves started to sell a wine called Vin Tonique Mariani which has a combination of coca leaves and French Bordeaux wine.

The effect of this combination was the creation of cocaine in the process.  This combination was popular among such luminaries as Queen Victoria, Pope Pius X and Thomas Edison.  It helped to give them energy (no wonder!).

This concoction was a key inspiration for John Pemberton’s wine drink recipe he developed in 1885.  It probably would of been a huge success but prohibition was passed in the United States Pemberton developed a non-alcoholic version.  It was ultimately renamed to Coca-Cola because it combined coca leaves  kola nuts (the source of caffeine). The rest as they say is history with Coca-Cola going through a few transformations to the drink we know today – and it all started with French wine.

4 – Viva La French Wine (or something like that)

How much do the French love wine?  Well its a lot… in fact during World War II French wine makers hid away important roots, vines and bottles of wine from the German invaders.  They felt it was critical to preserve as a key part of French culture.

5 – Its the soil stupid…

We all know what goes in affects what comes out. Thats true of wine. The type and quality of the soil that the grapes are planted and grown has a great impact on the quality of the wine.  In fact French wines are named based on the soil from which they are produced versus the type of grape.  For example, French Bordeaux wines come from the Bordeaux region.  French law even dictates that wines must be named by region.

6 – France is one of the largest producers of wine in the world.  The demand continues to grow as wine demand world wide grows.  They produce about 6 million bottles of wine a year – drink up!

7- The three primary red wine regions (remember they are named by the area not the variety of grape) are Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhône.

8 – Champagne is France’s most popular wine, as well as the country’s global brand.

9 – French wines have different levels of classification.  As an example “Vin de Table” is table wine and comes only with the guarantee that it was made in France and thats about it.   Where as “Vin de Pays” for example is made from specific grapes and carries the name of a particular region.

10 – The French love their wine consuming around 60 Liters of wine per person per year.   Thats more than any other country and roughly 60% of that is red wine, 25% rose and 15% white.


11 – Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest French wine region with 528,000 acres. Bordeaux has 306,000 acres and Rhône Valley has 188,700 acres.

12 – Some of the most popular and most rare and of course most expensive wines in the world come from France.  Here are a couple of eye popping examples:

  • Chateau Margaux 1787 – $500,000
  •  Chateau Lafite 1787 – $160,000
  • Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 – $23,000
  • Chateau Margaux 2009 Balthazar – $4,062
  • Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1990 – $20,975
  • Chateau Lafite 1865 – $4,650


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