France has long been an important wine producing country. Initially, monks, for a celebratory drink during Mass, produced wines. As trade grew, vineyards moved closer to port cities, such as Bordeaux. There are seven major wine regions of France. French wineries name their wines after the vineyard where the wine was grown, rather than the grape variety, although the final determination of a wine"s character comes from many factors, including grape variety, soil quality, when it"s harvested, how it"s stored, and the skill of the winemaker. Touring the wine regions of France is a great holiday side trip, or a fantastic focus for a vacation in France.
The principal wine regions of France are Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Loire region, and the Rhone. Each offers a unique style of wine, for varying tastes. Bordeaux is home to full-bodied red wines, Languedoc produces about 40% of France"s wine--including table wine--and Champagne is know for, well, producing Champagne. Wines of France (http://www.frenchwinesfood.com/) has an excellent tutorial on wine production and wine tasting in France, as well as information on what"s available in the States.
A fantastic way to see more of France, and experience the French wineries, is to take a wine tour. While the tourist office of most towns should be able to point you in the right direction, why not sample a few glasses at a bar, and take a tour of the wineries in a region corresponding to the vintage you like. Popular areas for wine tasting in France include Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Rhone and Provence. A French Wine Tour offers different tours of wine country, and searching on the internet for "wine tasting in France" or "French wineries" provides good results.
One of the premier wine regions in France is Bordeaux. While in Bordeaux, rent a car and drive north to the vineyards. Once there, sample Bordeaux wines, and find out why it"s some of the best in the world. At the end of June Bordeaux has a 4 day wine festival. For some exotic relaxation, take a red wine bath at the Caudalie VinothŽrapie Spa, which is also a hotel and vineyard. For an education in wine, the Ecole du Vin offers lessons about wine in English. Visit the Haut-Brion chateau or the La Mission-Haut Brion next to it and try more Bordeaux wines.