First of all, I LOVE THAT COUNTRY. It's cheaper to get a carafe of wine that it is to get a coke!!! So civilized.
Since I really love red wine, I concentrated on that for the first part of the trip...they just seemed to go more with what we were eating in Paris....(in Normandy, the drink of choice is Calvados, an apple brandy famous in that region - they love their apples in Normandy - so for dinner one night we had a pitcher of their "cider" - it's like a fizzy hard cider. Very good, not high alcohol content, like the Calvados.)
Here are my findings (I'd do anything for my research). I did not write down vineyards and brands and years and such cause quite honestly, there are a TON of them...and sometimes I didn't get the info...their "house" wines are sometimes the ones we pay $25 a bottle for here.
But if you go here is the guide according to this wine-y mom:
Chinon- the lightest of the reds that I tried....not like a Shiraz - lighter - I liked it.
Brouilly - next up on the "lightest" (not sweetest, by lightest I mean full bodied flavor). This was probably my favorite of them all - great taste, not heavy on the oak or woody flavors - very good fruit with some peppery bite afterwards.
Cotes du Rhone - we have this varietal over here...I found that CDR can vary big time... there are thousands of them...some I liked, some I did not.....once I had tried a few though, I stopped trying them cause you just never knew....
Sancerre - full bodied, a bit stronger than Cotes du Rhone - I only tried this once and found it to be--- fizzy, no aftertaste, odd??? Plus, they served it chilled and I'm just not used to a chilled red wine...
Sancerre is also a white wine, which was very good and very expensive...think a Kendall Jackson chardonnay - thus I didn't try it often. Ok, once. As a splurge.
Bordeaux - the grandaddy of them all - can only come from the Bordeaux region... some can have a very woodsy flavor, but you can always taste something else in there and that is what makes it SO good. I tried a lot of these.....and again, some of them were served chilled....we don't do that with reds here....so I was intrigued. I asked about the chilling and was told that in the old days, cellars and homes were colder, so room temp was actually in the 50's.....so you can go ahead and chill your red for 45 minutes or so....especially if it's a light one, like the Chinon. I had heard that before...but it seemed so much more official coming from a waiter in Paris, you know?
Did I bring any home? Well, just two little bottles...since you can't carry wine on board planes anymore, you have to pack it (or ship it, but then we'd have had to sell one of the children on the streets of Paris to afford that and well...we decided not to). Packing wine is very hard, so I just drank and sipped as I went and took notes. I talked to a friend who had been in London at the same time and he did the same thing - just bought it to drink there cause getting it back home was WAY too tricky.
The Normandy Calvados is sold in teeny bottles....so I did get some of them safely back - haven't tried them yet...but will report when I do!!! I bought the Calvados, Liquer de Pomme (apple liqueur) and Pommeau de Normandie (light brandy is the best way to describe this one - like apple cider with a shot of apple brandy....).Like I said, I'll let you know.
Hope you learned something - and if anyone has anything to add about my very basic French wine primer, please do so!!! Knowledge is power - and it also makes for a good glass of wine!!