France - ""This demi-sec sparkling wine is a blend of Airen, Macabeu and Pariada. On the nose and palate Cruse shows floral aromas punctuated by fresh green apples and rich caramelised bananas. Facets of almond and hazelnut add a new layer to the wine with subtle complexity.""
For centuries, French wines have set standards to inspire winemakers around the world. No other country has France’s long history of fine wine production, which has helped define wine styles around the world.
How significant is France in the world of wine? The most popular international grape varieties, from Chardonnay to Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon, are native to France. In many years France produces (and consumes!) more wine than any other country. Its production and export of fine wines is unmatched.
The ancient Greeks were the first to take advantage of France’s potential for wine production, as they planted vines in their colonies along the Mediterranean coastline more than 2,500 years ago. After the Romans conquered Gaul in 51 B.C., they took vines and winemaking practices north across the land. In the following centuries, Christian monasteries became centers for viticulture, and their monks made pioneering advances in both winemaking and distilling. By the Middle Ages, the English had already recognized the excellence of wines of France, and while they controlled Bordeaux they expanded the region’s existing vineyards to supply the brand-new export market.
Champagne and the best sparkling wines share the unique quality of making any occasion special – and of making special occasions that much more magical. The pop of a cork has traditionally signaled the start of a celebration, after all.
Yet the great secret of Champagne and other sparkling wines is that they are good all the time. There’s no need to wait for New Year’s Eve to enjoy a sparkling wine, when affordable and delicious bubblies are increasingly produced in all of the world’s great winemaking regions. Dry sparklers, with their zesty, palate-cleansing acidity, are marvelous food wines. So it’s easy to incorporate fun sparkling wines into your happy hour, or a casual brunch or dinner. Sweeter sparkling wines keep the party going through dessert. The setting doesn’t have to be fancy: The Italians, who know a few things about food and wine, like to pair their sparkling Prosecco with potato chips.