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Buying French Wine

The French wine industry, as well as the rest of Europe is in a bit of a spin. Over production, together with a drop in consumption, has lead to millions of litres of French wine and others, being turned into alcohol or vinegar and vines being grubbed up.

Not only that, but we are being flooded by wine from the USA, South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand plus the stuff from the new EU members from the Eastern Bloc. If that is not enough, India is starting to expand it’s small but long established wineries.

It has been said that the French wine producers have, to some extent, brought this problem on themselves as they were resistant to change when it came to marketing their wine, preferring to remain with their traditional marks on the bottles which featured the appellation and vineyard, rather than promoting the grapes used.

This new method has been used to fantastic effect by the rest of the world, aided and abetted by the supermarket chains, where the knowledge of the products they are selling is pretty sketchy on the shop floor.

Although the new producers are making some very excellent vintage type wine, so excellent that they are beating the French at their own game, their first concern is for a product that is consistent from year to year and so there are vast swathes of vines being used. That is the problem, the whole magic and mystery of wine making and drinking is being sanitised for supermarket profits by the huge multinational companies.

Just as the artisan butchers, bakers and the rest have been marginalised by the stack’em up and sell’em cheap, so the winemakers are going, some might say have already gone, the same way. Just look along any supermarket shelf and you will see rows of Cabinet Sauvignon, Cabernet Merlot, Chardonay etc., coming from the USA, Australia, Chile, Roumania, et al., and a couple of the most well known areas such as Bordeaux, Rioja, Frascati, Chianti, Etc..

Even the large off-licence chains are playing the same game because they are staffed by low paid workers whose knowledge of wine is woefully thin.

The only place to go is to specialist wine shops but the distress there is that they will be concentrating on the pricier end of the market, that said, they may have some fascinating wine that won’t break the bank, although it probably won’t be as cheap as the supermarket. What you loose in the financial swings you more than make up on the knowledge roundabout. In the main, these people are passionate about wine and will be able to give you expert advice. If you become a regular customer, you should get invited to wine tasting sessions, which is the best way to know the differences in the wide variety of grapes and winemaking.

There is always the internet where buying wine is a click away and there are many different wines available often with tasting notes and personal revues. The latter is the key to buying on line although somewhat time consuming. Check through the reviews and see who is posting reviews and if they are excellent or terrible. You will need a degree of faith as you cannot be sure that it is not the proprietors’ brother or wife writing the review.
Start with the cheapest wine and get a selection covering a few people, then when the wine arrives do a tasting and see how much you agree or disagree with the review. Don’t forget to make notes as you will need to refer back at a later date. Don’t just take one wine as a comparison, but rather use a selection so that you can build a profile of those reviewers that you can trust and whose taste in wine matches yours. Then you will be able to buy on line with a reasonable certainty that if you buy the same wines, you will not be disappointed.

The absolutely best way to buy French wine, or indeed any wine, is to get in a car and drive around the countryside looking at the small vineyards and tasting here and there. Take some large flagons, at least 5 or 10 litre capacity because some of those smaller places sell only to the locals who bring there own containers.

The joy of finding a fantastic small French wine from a farm house tucked away out of sight, talking to ‘Le Patron’ about how it was made, what the year had been like etc is one of the best you can get.

Ian Richards webmaster of yourpower2be.com, on line webzine . You will find beauty tips, health information, familly budget and finance, shopping to die for, make up, holidays and travel, recipes, information on pets and gardening, weddings, and a whole lot more. yourpower2be.com yourpower2be.com



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