French vs. California Wines

The man-on-the-street will tell you that California wines are more “fruit-forward” than French ones. And that French wines are more complex and dry.

That may be true, roughly speaking.

Remember that the wine regions of France and California span a wide range of natural environments, and that winemaking techniques across the globe have progressed immensely over the last half-century.

Generalizations about Old-World versus New-World wines must therefore be taken with a grain of salt.

While it is true that terroir, climate and local practices play a substantial role in how wines taste, grape varietals still retain defining flavors regardless of where they are grown.

If you are used to buying California wines based on varietal names, use the table below to help you begin to explore French wines.

If you like… then you should try…
Chardonnay Burgundy whites
Pinot Noir Burgundy reds
Cabernet, Merlot Bordeaux reds
Syrah Rhone reds
Viognier Condrieu
Sauvignon blanc Bordeaux whites
Chenin blanc Loire whites
Zinfandel Reds from Languedoc