French wines classification
French wine is some of the most revered in the world but the system for French wines classification can be confusing to the uninitiated. The first of these wine classifications is Vin de Table. This accounts for around 12% of the wine produced in France and is generally thought of as the most basic type of French wine. On the label, you will find only the name of the winemaker and the fact that it comes from France. While not likely to be expensive or exceptional in any way, there is no reason why a Vin de Table cannot be a perfectly pleasant drink to charm with a picnic or casual meal.
The second level of French wine classification
The second level of French wines classification is also the second largest by volume. It is known as Vin de Pays and it accounts for around one third of all wine produced in France. A Vin de Pays wine label will feature the producer and the fact that it comes from France but also the particular area of France where it was produced. These wines are thought of as a step up in quality from simple table wine and the wines in this classification must be submitted for tasting and analysis. They also have to be made from certain grapes, although the rules are less strict than for AOC wines.
The third French wines classification
The third category of French wine classification is an odd one because it no longer exists. This is known as Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure and it accounts for less than 1% of French wine. It was intended to be a step towards the higher AOC classification and was used for smaller areas but it was abolished in 2011. Nevertheless, some bottles may still be found with this French wines classification, so it is worth recording here.
The fourth French wines classification
The fourth, and highest, French wines classification is the Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) This accounts for the majority, just over 50%, of French wine production. This certification is intended as a guarantee of both origin and quality. To meet AOC standards, the wine must meet strict rules, including the use of certain grapes, harvesting and wine-making techniques, vine yields and the age and density of the vines themselves. An AOC wine should have consistent quality and a distinct character but, as more than half of all French wines meet this criteria, this in itself should not be used alone to judge quality. Instead, using a reputable guide, like Gilbert & Gaillard, alongside the AOC certification should allow you to find the best quality wines.