Paris Eats: Wines for under 5 euro.

Wine for under 5 euro!

Another wonderful treat that France offers you is a wide variety of wines for less than 5 euro (7.50 even at the current weak dollar exchange rate).

Where should you buy wine in Paris?  How about everywhere?  Walk down most major streets and you will see a variety of wine shops ranging from friendly (yes that is right) locals to the reliable chain, Nicolas.  Wine is good at your local grocery store as well and likely to be a bit cheaper there.   The great advantage of going to a local shop is that they will help you and most speak some English.

By no means is this an attempt to write a guide to French wines, that is a lifetime of work.  It is a list of some recommendations to drink well and frankly at a good price.

I will break this simple guide to buying inexpensive wine into White, Rose and Reds.  Rather than try to go into a particular vintage or producer I will look at types of wine to buy rather than which wine to buy.

In the white wines there are two sure fire directions that you can take that will regularly deliver drinkable reasonable wines during your visit. The choice is really one of which grape are you after, the rounder fuller flavors found in Chardonnay or the dryer more acidic (and yes this is good acidity otherwise known as crispness) Sauvignon Blanc.  If looking for a chardonnay, consider buying a Bourgogne Aligote instead.  These are solid wines from the same growing region that produces the high end chardonnays (made with a different grape that is bit lighter in body).  Sauvignon blanc comes from the Loire region usually in the area of Touraine.  We had one, bone dry and delicious for 3.80.

Other Loire wines that really go well with seafood are Muscadet (average cost 5 euros and under) and Bordeaux, the great red wine grown region.  Be careful that Bordeaux blanc that you buy is sec, i.e. dry, because they can be sweet.  If you see the word mollieux, you are getting a sweet wine.

Rose.  At 2 to 3 euros each you can afford to buy several until you find one you like.  Again the problem is sweetness.  One consistent area that produces Rose is Tavel.  Another is Cabernet D’Anjou.  This is a bit hit and miss, so ask for help.

Red.  The best value in reds in France are from the Bordeaux.  They are masters at blending lesser grapes to create solid balanced wines that will compliment meats and cheeses.  Blends that feature Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that are made to dink now as opposed to the expensive versions that can keep for years and years.   I tried a 2003 and was very disappointed by its lack of body, the younger wines were more impressive.

Loire is another source of value for reds.   Gamay grapes come from the Beaujolais region and should not be confused with the efforts to market “Nouveau Beaujolais” every year in November.  These are great every day wines with lots of pepper and character.  Look for Beaujolais Villages.  If you can find a Cote de Brouilly, a Morgon or a Fleurie at this price grab it.  These are wines meant to be enjoyed young, be wary if more than 3 years old.

Finally, there are the Cote Du Rhones, sometimes thin at this price and the inexpensive Pinot Noirs you may find.  I leave them out because they don’t seem to fare as well at the lower price points.  Save those for when the budget allows.

There are so many other French wine growing regions that I have left out. At 5 euros and under you can take a risk.

You won’t find cheap champagne in France, the lowest true bottle we saw was 15 euro.  You can buy other sparkling wines such Blanquette de Limou, they will more than do the job and keep the euros in your pocket.  If it says Cremant, it has been produced with the same method as Champagne, just not in the region.

Now get out there and buy some.


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