Wine is an alcoholic beverage derived from fermented juice, usually grapes. They go along with the dishes during meals in many of the countries in the world today. People around the globe drink wine as naturally as water. They serve wines during meals and occasions.Celebrations and occasion around the globe is not complete without wines in their menus.
Generally wines are composed of 87.7% water, 11% alcohol, and the remaining percentage is composed of acid, tannins and other ingredients. Wine production has various processes. Fruit grapes are first cultivated and allowed to ripen in vineyards until the sugar content and acidity are already suitable. When these grapes are ready, they are then fermented with yeasts and bacteria with proper temperature and properly selected yeasts. The fermented juice is then clarified and filtered. They are then stored in wooden barrels, bottles or steel tanks. Wine flavors are further modified during storage periods depending on the type of microorganisms and their growth rate that are present in the wine (Food-info.net, 2014).
Wines may be classified into : red or white, and dry, medium or sweet. They are also classified as natural wines, sparkling wines, and fortified wines. Natural wines are also called ‘table wines’ since they are generally served during meals. They have an alcohol content of about 8 to 14%. Sparkling wines are wines that contain carbon dioxide. Champagne is the most famous type of sparkling wines. Lastly, the fortified wines have an alcohol content of 14 to 24%. They are mostly consumed as an aperitif during desserts (Broadbent, 1996).
Vine cultivation and wine production began even in the years before Christ as mentioned in the Bible in the Old Testaments. Various accounts in the Bible mentioned the people celebrating with wines on their tables. Early civilizations are already producing vines and processing them into wines. The Egyptians made wines, and the early Greeks inherited such practice (Broadbent, 1996). The process of wine making is rooted in the early civilizations, developed throughout time. Vine cultivation is an old age agriculture derived from the past in which through time, humanity has inherited and developed.
France stands out to be the producer of best wines in the world. It is called the “mother country for fine wines”. The wooden barrels used as storage for wines came from them. Throughout history, the best wines are accounted to be coming from France. Vitriculture has been firmly established in the early day France even long before the fall of the Roman Empire. French wine history dates back from the 6thcentury BC. By this time, the Celtic and Phoenician were one of the first to have vineyards in Marseilles, south of France. Romans, who rule out the world during the 1st century, developed the wine culture in Marseilles promoting wine drinking as lifestyle and passion. Despite the call of the Romans to destroy vineyards of France in the year 92 AC, wine industry still continues to rise as they are renewed in the year 280 AC. The wine industry in France further developed during the French revolution (Premium Wines, 2008).
The rise of Catholicism further improved the wine culture and its essence as medieval religious orders were strongly influenced with the presence of wine. The influence of religion in Europe during that time is at peak. Church leaders promote wine drinking and it became part of their culture. Wines are good to drink. Many of the religious festivities such as weddings, thanksgiving, and other occasions call for wine drinking as religious culture. Priests have wine drinking moments during Ecclesiastical mass. The people adapted this culture. Demand for wine during this time rose into peak. Vine cultivation flourished and encouraged so as to produce more wines to satisfy the society’s demands.
Over time, France has the longest history in the wine industry. Their vineyards are superficially large enabling them for big productions. The geographical composition and location of France is very suitable for vine cultivation. Grapes quality and quantity is greatly affected by various factors such as geological, geographical and climate conditions. Vineyards in France produce various varieties of grapes thereby producing diverse flavored wines. Individual vineyards have their own set of quality wine produced. Experts in wine making categorize the types of wine produced from certain grape variety. These experts help novices and amateurs in transforming their wines to be one of the best tasting wines in France and in the whole world. The competition in the wine industry in France is very tight. Vine cultivars are demanded to produce delicious wines so as to compete even in the local market. The wine demand in France is high such that more and more people are encouraged to join the wine industry. The consumption level is also high among the French, where they grew more particular in the wine quality as they are recognized in the world (World Wide Tours, 2014).
French wines have a strict hierarchy system where wines produced are classified based on the source of the fruit grapes and the control in the production. They are classified to mark their potential in the market. Wine classification varies. There are some low quality wines that can be graded as better that high quality wines. Wines are classified as follows:
- AOC (Appelationd’Origine Controlee – Wines belonging in the line are top line wines with firm and rigid controls considering the regions of production, variety of grapes, maximum yield, alcohol level, vine characteristics and culture and vinification methodology.
- Cru Classe – high classification that includes medoc, Grave, Saint Emillion and Sauterne
- VDQS (Vin Delimite de QualiteSuperieure) – a second high quality classification considered as superior wines with strict consideration of grapes variety and methodology.
- Vin de Pays – compose of high quality table wines taking into consideration the grapes variety, source, and density
- Vin de Table – classification for basic table wines with qualities that vary from sharp, good, and second rate quality. These are mostly served in small shops, and other ordinary locations and occasions.
There is no doubt that France leads the world in terms of quality wines. Various regions in France are cultivated with quality vines producing the best tasting wines. Top wine regions in France are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Loire, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, Champagne, Rhone Valley, and Rhine Valley. Bordeaux is said to be the home of widely planted noble vines. Red wines such as Margaux, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild come from Cabernet Franc and Merlot variety in Medoc District. Graves produce Haut-Brion, Saint Emillon has Cheval Blanc and Ausone, and Petrus come from Pomerol. Other regions in France such as Burgundy is famous with other grape varieties producing Pinot Noir red wine and Chardonnay white wines. Areas in Cote d’Or produce heartier red wines of Cote de Nuits namely Chambolie-Musigny, Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges and many more. The sparkling wines such as Champagnes are also best produced in France found in Northern France produced in Lorie, Savoie and Burgundy. The Rhone Valley produces perfect red wines, Rhine valley has good quaiity white wines, Loire Valley manufactures outstanding white wines, the Midi and Provence regions produce many popular wines (Broadbent, 1996).
France ranked as the first in countries having the biggest wine production in the whole world with around 5.2M metric tons production in 2002. They are also leading in the world’s largest consumers with around 57 liters consumption per capita. This trend in French wine is further geared to development as new modern approaches in flavor enhancing, quality parameters and packaging are introduced. Wine based flavored drinks such as light grape wines achieve outstanding records in the year 2012. The wine markets today contains leading companies that enjoy high brand recognition due to their long standing presence in the wine industry. With the continues rise of economy, there are still a lot of new production capacities for brands waiting for exploration in France (Euromonitor International, 2013).
The French wines have already established their fame throughout the world. They have indeed set the parameters for quality wines consideration. The advent of technological introduction where machines and devices are already available to measure various wine parameters fast and easy has made the wine industry in France even more competitive. The years of their experimentation since the ancient period made them strategize various methodologies in wine processing. There are wine productions nowadays that do not require long periods of storage anymore.
The wine industry in France is a stable one. Various wine making industries around the globe recognize their expertise and mark them for bench mark and competition labels. There are many wines that compete with French wines. However, though they match the quality of the wines, but the name and fame that France holds for the longest period of time can no longer be taken from them. France has been crowned as the wine capital of the world.
Broadbent, Michael. (1996). The New Groiler Multimedia Encyclopedia.
Euromonitor International. (2013). Country Report: Wine in France. Executive Summary.
Food-ifo.net. (2014). “What is wine?”. Accessible from http://www.food-info.net/uk/products/wine/intro.htm
Premium ‘wines.(2008). “French wine culture”. Accessible through http://www.premiumwines.cn/en/culture/
World Wide Tours.(2014). France Wine. Accessible through http://www.worldwidewinetours.com/france/france-wine.html