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Discover the Truth About Bordeaux Wine

Bordeaux wine barrels

You might have heard of Bordeaux wine, but are they really any better than wines from other regions? If you want to learn the sordid history and what makes these wines stand out, keep reading.

Step back in time

Originally marshlands, the Bordeaux region of France covers approximately 300,000 acres. Since Situated on the Rhone River, the region provides a strategic port area. While first inhabited by the Celts in the 6th century, the area soon became a coveted position for the Vikings, the French, and British.

During the 1700s, inhabitants brought in Danish engineers to dry out the land and build estates. The location near the water created a temperate climate perfect for grape growing. The maritime climate allows for a long growing season, where the grapes can ripen fully. Hence the Bordeaux wine regions were born.

The region is further divided into the Left Bank, Right bank, and Entre deux mer (meaning between 2 waters.

Did you know…

France is no longer the #1 producer of wine? Italy has surpassed France for the #1 spot, followed by Spain at #2. France falls behind in 3rd place. According to Wein Plus Magazine, Bordeaux only produced 503 million bottles of wine in 2021, compared to approximately 900 million in the past.

But first, how do I read a Bordeaux wine label?

Bordeaux wine label

Look for these points on your wine label. If you find that you like a particular wine, try others from the same chateau, vintage, appellation, or classification.

Chateau – honors the winery the bottle is from as well as the brand
Vintage – identifies the year the grapes were harvested
Appellation – notes where the grapes were grown. The smaller the area the better the quality
Classification – this refers to the left bank ratings for Bordeaux Superior

Did you know…

… in France wine producers are known as wine masters not wine makers. They see themselves as vineyard keepers, working with nature to let wines reach their potential. Vineyard keepers believe the climate and soil produces fine wine. They just help it along.

What about Bordeaux wine from the Left Bank

The soil of the Left Bank contains a lot of pebbles. Therefore this gravel like soil provides proper drainage necessary for growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Consequently, blends from this area contain primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes.

Likewise these blends tend to be mostly dry, full bodied reds. These grapes also age well so you can drink these wines years after they are bottled.

In 1855, Napoleon sent noblemen to rank the wines of the Bordeaux region. This became known as the Universal Exposition of Paris. The ratings were based on a rank of 1-5. Subsequently all of the highest ratings belonging to the left bank.


Oddly, the nobles based their rankings on the prior reputation of the wines as well as the most expensive price points. No actual tasting took place to award these rankings. Because wine masters often age these wines, they have a higher price point.

What to eat with Left Bank wines?

High levels of tannins present in these wines helps break down proteins and fats. Therefore you should pair these blends with lamb, steaks, beef roasts, veal, or venison.

Did you know…

… the Bordeaux region produces 15% of French wines and 1.5 of wine produced worldwide?

How does Bordeaux wine differ on the Right Bank

On the other hand, the soil of the right bank contains more clay. The limestone clay provides good growing conditions for Merlot grapes. Blends will mainly be comprised of Merlot, followed by Cabernet Franc, and then Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy these wines young.

The Cabernet Franc grapes have a thinner skin which makes growing them more difficult. Therefore wine masters must use extensive trestling techniques to cover this variety from the sun. They must do this to protect the juices from drying out.

As a result, many vineyard owners are removing Cabernet Franc vines from their vineyards because of the extensive care they need. They are replacing them with more cost effective varieties.

What to eat with Right Bank wines?

Red wines from this region pair nicely with richer poultry such as duck and turkey. Right Bank wines also compliment roast pork.

What does Entre Deux Mer mean?

white wine tasting for beginners

This area, located between the Dordogne and the Garone produces white wines. Wine masters create blends from a combination of Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillion grapes. The Semillion grapes balance the blends with their full bodied, fruit, and acidity.

Pair these with lighter foods such as fish, chicken, or vegetable dishes.

That sums up our intro to Bordeaux wines. Join us next to learn the difference between sparkling wines and Champagne.

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Donna Emperador is a creative blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and wine. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time traveling and making wine culture easier to understand for readers.

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