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French wines can be daunting to the humble wine drinker. The myriad regions and grape varieties can be confusing. French wine law is some of the most complicated in the world, and French wine labels can be incomprehensible if you don't know what you are looking for.
Most wine drinkers today are accustomed to"glugging wines", which taste fine on their own without food. Many French wines are predominantly food wines, to be enjoyed over long lunches or dinners with family and friends. If your French red isn't cutting the mustard, try it with red meat and it will taste completely different.
France has a long wine history, with tradition playing a large part in determining the quality. To some extent French wine makers have been able to rest on their laurels somewhat, riding on their reputation. With the quality and range of wines from the New World increasing vastly, French wine makers have been given a run for their money in recent years. Tradition still plays a massive part in French wine production but increasingly wine makers are producing wines more accessible to the modern wine drinker. Even the wine labels are becoming easier to understand.
Getting to grips with the French wine regions is like exploring your way through different countries. Each region has its own identity, climate, style, grape-types and wine-laws. In some areas wines can be drunk young, without food, in others wines need to be aged, sometimes for years and need to accompany a meal.