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French wines

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Compared to the other wine-making nations, France is considered one of the leading manufacturers of wine both in quantity and quality. The amount of wine produced in France annually is astonishing, at around 50 million to 60 million hectolitres per year, equal to eight billion bottles. Culturally, wine has a deep-rooted influence on the French society; traditionally enjoyed by both the privileged and the peasantry, wine is a symbol of identity for the French.

The French climate has a significant role to play in the wine-making process. It is this climate that helps winemakers to produce a wide range of diverse and delicious French wines. Situated in the northern region of France, the Champagne region is quite cool, whereas the climate of Rhone Valley is drier and warmer, which is 350 miles south-east. Bordeaux benefits from the water-bodies around it, to the west the Atlantic Ocean and a range of rivers flow close to vineyards. Burgundy and Alsace on the other hand situated are situated further east where grape yields are governed by drier summers and colder winters. In the south, the climate is more Mediterranean, distinguished by hotter summers and gentle rainy winters.

Each region produces its own variety of grapes which are eventually used to prepare French traditional wines. It all depends on a region’s terroir. A wine’s terroir is the general climate, the condition of the soil, the vineyard slope and elevation from sea level.

In years gone-by, wine-growers used to select from a wide selection of grape varieties, choosing whatever was available at the time, this was until the advent of more proficient wine husbandry. Due to these practices, some grapes adapted to become compatible with each region's local soil and climate, for example Pinot Noir and Burgundy. Over time, each region has developed respective rules regarding wine production and growing.