Beer & Wine Wine

The 13 Best French Wines to Drink in 2021

From juicy reds and fruit-driven whites to experimental orange wines.

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There’s a reason why consumers and professionals alike agree that most of the best wines in the world come from France. While this is certainly a highly subjective statement, there’s no denying that some of viticulture’s most fetishized terroirs (and most talented winemakers) call this country home. 

“I love that you can travel to any region in France—even within a short distance—and find a unique wine and food culture,” says NY-based sommelier Denise Barker, an instructor at the Sommelier Society of America. Barker notes that many regional winemakers honor their ancestors' way of working the vineyards and winemaking, which gives fierce authenticity to the wines. “While they didn’t invent wine, many say they perfected it, and I agree!” she exclaims.

Although the options are seemingly endless, we’ve rounded up a handful of our favorite go-to picks from France’s many renowned regions. No matter which style of wines you gravitate towards, we promise there’s something on the list for you! Get ready for a mouthwatering tour of the best French wines to drink right now.

Best Overall: Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py

Morgon "Côte du Py", Foillard

courtesy of Astor Wines

Region: Morgan (Beaujolais), France | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Dark cherries, Violets, Dried herbs

There are many reasons why well-made Beaujolais has become a go-to pick for pros, novices, and everyone in between. When produced in the right hands, these delicious wines are perfect for every season and wine-drinking situation out there. Jean Foillard is an absolute legend in the natural winemaking world. An original member of Kermit Lynch's 'Gang of Four,' Foillard pursued so-called 'rebellious' winemaking techniques, which included native yeast fermentations, no fining / filtering and an overall low intervention mentality in the cellar. Today, this style of winemaking is responsible for some of the most delicious and easy-drinking wines on the planet. Expect juicy flavors of dark cherries, red fruits, damp earth, violets, and dried herbs from this tasty Morgon. From a quality to price ratio, this is one of the best deals coming out of France.

“Cru Beaujolais is definitely one of my go-to's,” says Barker. “I love how these wines pair with a wide variety of foods, yet can easily be enjoyed without it,” Barker notes that if you put a bottle of Cru Beaujolais on nearly any table, most drinkers will enjoy it and that each individual cru offers a different weight, texture, and spice component. “Some of the most ‘salt of the earth’ producers in France create wines here that are not to be overlooked.”

Best White: Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Blanc

Guiberteau Saumur Blanc

Courtesy of Wine.com

Region: Loire Valley, France | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Baked apples, Stone fruit, Honey, Crushed rocks 

This rich yet acid-driven chenin blanc promises to satisfy an array of palate preferences. The wine’s medium to full body, fruit-driven flavors (hello, baked apples and stone fruit!), and all-around thirst-quenching nature make it perfect for sipping solo or pairing with a variety of cuisines. Domaine Guiberteau has a solid reputation as one of the best organic estates in the Loire Valley and it’s no surprise why – the proof is in the bottle.

Related: The Best White Wines

Best Red: Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge

Camille Giroud Bourgogne

Courtesy of Wine.com

Region: Burgundy, France | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Black cherries, Mushroom, Sweet spice

Affordable red Burgundy can be hard to find, but this pick from Camille Giroud checks all of our boxes: it’s refreshing, it’s laden with acid, and it’s downright tasty. Earthy notes of black cherries, red fruit, mushrooms, and sweet spice lead to a harmonious, palate-quenching finish. Enjoy slightly chilled. 

“Wines from France have this incredible capability of transporting you to where that wine is specifically from,” says Yannick Benjamin, co-founder of Wine on Wheels. Benjamin notes that wines made in France generally have all of the “organoleptic properties” that a high-quality wine-producing country needs, though in looking beyond the label, many hold incredible stories of history, culture, farming, and the passion of the vigneron just waiting to be discovered.

Best Rosé: Triennes Rosé

Triennes Rosé

Courtesy of Wine.com

Region: Provence, France | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Strawberries, Grapefruit rind, Sea salt

In a sea of subpar pink wines, this Provençal stunner takes the cake. This affordable wine is the brainchild of two renowned Burgundian winemakers (Jeremy Seysses and Aubert de Villaine) who set their sites south in search of great Mediterranean terroirs.

Notes of strawberries, grapefruit rind, fresh melon, and sea salt dominate this easy-drinking, organic pink sipper. The only thing better than its taste is its price tag.

Best Orange / Skin-Contact: Binner Si Rosé

Binner Si Rose

Courtesy of Vivino

Region: Alsace, France | ABV: 14% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Dried fruits, Rosehips

Don’t let the name fool you—this 'rosé’ wine is anything but pink. Produced at the hands of one of Alsace’s most prolific natural winemakers, this skin-contact blend of gewurztraminer and pinot gris jumps with flavors of citrus rind, dried fruits, lychee, and rose hips. Textured, tasty, and perfect for those looking to dive into the world of skin-contact French wines.

Best Sparkling (Champagne): Laherte Frères Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature Champagne N.V.

Laherte Frères Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature Champagne N.V.

Courtesy of Vivino

Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: White flowers, Chalk, Lemon cream, Brioche

This savory blanc de blancs Champagne is produced at the hands of one of the region’s only organic/biodynamic producers. Crafted entirely from chardonnay, this lusciously creamy wine is laden with flavors of yellow apples, white flowers, chalk, lemon cream, and brioche. The quality, farming, and taste that this bottle provides for the price is astounding! Bottled with no dosage. 

Eric Rydin of New York-based Le Grand Triage notes that Champagne is “so insanely consistent,” that one can always rely on an amazing bottle every single time.

[Author’s note: When shopping for Champagne, look to small grower-producers for some of the region’s greatest hidden gems.]

Related: The Best Sparkling Wines

Best Sparkling (Non-Champagne): Bénédicte et Stéphane Tissot Crémant du Jura Brut

Domaine Tissot Cremant du Jura Brut Rose

Courtesy of Drizly

Region: Jura, France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Pear, Toasted bread, Grilled nuts  

When the night calls for Champagne but the budget just isn’t there, simply look to one of the country’s countless crémant options. These wines are made in the same style as Champagne, though are produced outside of said eponymous region and use different varieties, based on the region. This top-quality pick from the renowned Jura-based Tissots is simply stunning. Grab your flutes and get ready for a good time! 

“Jura and Champagne are just the best,” says Rydin, “I would drink a glass of either every day of the week.” Rydin notes that Jura wines have many different personalities and styles, but ultimately they tend to lean a bit toward the “geekier side” of things, dominated by savory and earthy nuances that he believes “many somms gravitate towards.”

Best Splurge (White): Roulot Bourgogne Blanc

Roulot Bourgogne Blanc

Courtesy of Drizly

Region: Burgundy, France | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Canned pears, Stone fruit, Sweet spice

It’s no secret that Jean-Marc Roulot is one of Burgundy’s greatest (if not the greatest) producers of chardonnay. His single-vineyard and cru-classified wines can go for multiple hundreds of dollars, but worry not—this simple splurge will run you under the three-digit mark. Expect rich and round flavors of canned pears, stone fruit, cream, sweet spice, and chalk. Chardonnay aficionados, you’re going to love this bottle.

Best Splurge (Red): Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph

Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph

Courtesy of Drizly

Region: Rhône Valley, France | ABV: 14% | Tasting Notes: Dark fruit, Violets, Cracked black pepper

In the realm of syrah, Jean-Louis Chave is undeniably the authority. Like Roulot, Chave’s prestigious ‘higher-end’ cuvées can cost multiple hundreds of dollars, though this absolutely stunning wine from Saint-Joseph goes for quite a bit less. Earth-driven flavors of dark fruits, leather, violets, and cracked black pepper ooze from the wine’s well-balanced palate. If your budget calls for it, we’d recommend grabbing two—one for now, one for the cellar. You’ll thank us later. 

Related: The Best Merlot Wines

Best ‘Vin de Soif’: Domaine Mathieu & Camille Lapierre Raisins Gaulois

Domaine Mathieu & Camille Lapierre Raisins Gaulois

Courtesy of Drizly

Region: Beaujolais, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Pomegranate, Raspberry, Wet rocks 

Our love affair with Beaujolais (see our Best Overall Pick) knows no limits, and in the world of budget-friendly options, this acid-driven wine from Lapierre is one of the best. Light, bright, and seriously easy to drink, this delicious bottle offers punchy flavors of pomegranate juice, raspberry jam, cinnamon, and wet rocks. Fair warning, this could become your go-to house wine. 

“My go-to red wine-producing region in France is the picturesque region of Beaujolais,” says Benjamin, citing Beaujolais as one of the best “Vin de Soif '' regions that he knows of. “Vin de Soif is an expression used in France to describe wines that are easy-drinking, but it also means a thirst quencher,” he explains, noting that gamay from the granitic hillsides of Beaujolais create delicious wines laden with “red crunchy fruit and incredible vibrancy.”

Best Budget-Friendly: Domaine des Cognettes Sélection des Cognettes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie

Domaine des Cognettes Muscadet

Courtesy of Drizly

Region: Loire Valley, France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Green apple, Saline, Honeysuckle

Looking for an instant trip to France's salty Atlantic shores? Then this bottle of muscadet is just for you. Produced entirely from organically-farmed fruit, this refreshing wine is all things citrus, green apple, saline, and honeysuckle. At under $15 a pop, this stuff promises to keep your thirst quenched all year long. Grab a few to keep on hand and never get caught thirsty at happy hour!

Rydin explains that he frequently gravitates towards French wines for their diversity of flavors and styles. “I like that I can get light, crisp whites like sancerre or muscadet as well as rich, full-bodied whites like a Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc.”

Best Sweet: Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon 'La Cueille' N.V.

Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon La Cueille

Courtesy of Drizly

Region: Bugey-Cerdon, France | ABV: 8% | Tasting Notes: Raspberry compote, Cherries, Sweet spice

Never heard of the wines of Bugey-Cerdon before? If you like pink, pleasantly sweet, and slightly sparkling wines (think of them like darker-hued, French versions of moscato), then these bottles are a must. This traditional regional blend of gamay and poulsard oozes with flavors of raspberry compote, ripe cherries, and sweet spice. This frothy, fizzy, and all-around tasty pick is honestly too easy to drink. Sweet wine skeptics, this stuff promises to change your mind. 

Best Under $25: Sérol Eclat de Granite Côte Roannaise

 Sérol Eclat de Granite Côte Roannaise

Courtesy of Verve Wine

Region: (Côte Roannaise) Loire Valley, France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Strawberries, Citrus rind, Volcanic earth

What better way to end our Best French wine journey with a zesty bottle of Loire Valley gamay? Unlike its Beaujolais counterparts, this rocky, mineral-driven bottle from the Côte Roannaise offers something slightly different. Taste for yourself and see! Notes strawberries, citrus rind, and volcanic earth jump from the wine’s crisp and energetic palate. Serve chilled with a variety of foods, especially French-inspired bistro favorites. 

“France has all the bases covered for both white and red, and it's not to say that other countries don't produce wines in a similar range of styles, but that in French winemaking, it is so much more common to find this range with ease,” explains Rydin. “I love that no matter what type of wine I'm craving, France has the bottle that will satisfy that urge.”

Read Next: The Best Cheap Wines

Additional French food and wine pairing information:

Some of Barker’s favorite French food and wine pairings include Alsatian riesling and sardines, pork rillette de campagne with aged Bordeaux, Jurançon sec with oysters from Cap Ferret, and chèvre de Sainte-Maure with vouvray (chenin blanc). 

Benjamin recommends coq au vin jaune served with its eponymous wine (vin jaune), as well as jura savagnin served with local comté cheese. For Rydin, Champagne and fried chicken, beaujolais and PBJ sandwiches (“Toast the bread so it doesn't get soggy!” he notes), and riesling with Asian cuisines are some of his top go-to's.

Why Trust Liquor.com? 

Vicki Denig is a wine and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators. Her work regularly appears on Liquor.com, Wine-Searcher, VinePair and more.

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