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Information : French wine

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French wine information

Wine was first produced in France commercially, at least, in 500BC by Greeks who settled in the South East near to what is now the border with Italy (bringing their Greek wine grapes with them). However, when the Romans invaded a hundred years later, they banned the commercial production of wine because it was in competition with Italian wines.

This went on for a few hundred years but Romans often went to retire to Southern France and grew wine for their own consumption, and when the Roman Empire began to disintegrate its rules went with it. In the next few hundred years it was the monks who began to make wine in large quantities and many labels still carry the names of the various religious orders that produced the wine.

Wine production in France had not been for export, usually just for local consumption, but when Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitane England owned a huge chunk of France including Bordeaux, from then on Claret (a red wine produced in Bordeaux) became very popular. French wine became very popular outside France generally and this continued until the 19th century.

The French vineyards suffered four major blights in the 19th and 20th centuries: two diseases and two world wars that ruined the reputation, quality and quantity of French wine production. Add to that the fact that wine production was beginning in many other parts of the world, they were in trouble for 100 years.

The French government issued laws controlling the quality of French wines and classifying the wine production in the various French regions: the “Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée”. By the 1970s French wine was back on target, production and quality were increasing and once more French wine is considered to be the best in the world. France once again has the two largest wine producing areas in the world (Languedoc and Bordeaux) and the country produces 9 billion bottles per year.