“You know, every glass of wine here is French wine.” Me sharing the extremely obvious with Tracy.
The Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southwest France, where we are living, is the largest area in France in terms of vineyard acreage. The region is known for its Blanquette de Limoux, the world’s oldest sparkling wine, and many high quality red wines like Corbières, Cotaeux du Languedoc, Côtes du Roussillon, Fitou, Minervois, Saint Chinian, and Costières de Nimes.
Languedoc-Roussillon is also known as the “Wine Lake” of France where the majority of inexpensive wines in France are produced. So much wine is produced in Languedoc-Roussillon that France worries the “Wine Lake’s” surplus drives down the export price of French table wine. More than 1/3 of all grapes grown in France are grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
The everyday wines are called Vin de France, (previously called “Vin de Table“) the lowest level of the three tiers in the current wine classification system in France. But don’t let the term “lowest level” deceive you, these are flavorful wines that enhance any meal or are enjoyable simply by the glass. Any wine in France is all about its terroir: the environment, climate, soil, geography, and weather that makes up the intangibles that combined with the variety of grapes and the skill of the winemaker creates the final taste of the wine.
The mid-level category of French wines are Indication Géographique Protégée wines (IGP), an intermediate category basically replacing the former Vin de Pays (“country wine”) category. These IGP/Vin de Pays wines are simple varietal French wines that include Vin de Pays d’Oc from Languedoc-Roussillon. Vin de Pays d’Oc is the largest portion of all Vin de Pays wines produced in France.
Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) is the highest category of French wine replacing the previously used category of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wines. We look forward to touring some of the local vineyards in the near future and tasting some of these top-tier AOP wines. Restaurants in Carcassonne offer high quality AOC wine lists in addition to their basic house wines.
Most of Tracy and my wine consumption has been Vin de France and Vin de Pays. These inexpensive reds, white, and rosé wines have proven to be delicious. “Un demi-pichet de vin,” (a half litre carafe of a restaurant’s vin de France) has never been a bad experience. Restaurants carefully choose even the house wine with their reputations in mind. Rosé wines are a respected wine choice and hold a prominent place in many of France’s major wine regions, including Languedoc-Roussillon.
Shopping for wine is an embarrassment of riches. The wine section in every store offers a huge range of quality, varieties, and price points. It is difficult to narrow down your choices from so many offerings. I was stunned to even see “boxed” vin de France meant for inexpensive table wine. Two of our most recent purchases, a red and a rosé, were both under 2 Euro and they were delicious!
Tracy and I greatly enjoy our new tradition of a glass of wine with lunch and dinner. And there is nothing like a leisurely afternoon, sitting in the town square of Place Carnot, and lingering with a carafe of wine as Tracy and I just enjoy the view, conversation, and people watching.