Wine 101 – by The Wine Baron

A quick introduction to wine

This is Part One of Two | To Part Two

Wine 101 vineyard from The Wine Baron

You’ve come to the best place to learn about wine. Begin the process of becoming knowledgeable about wine in minutes.

PART ONE OF TWO. Begin with the most important wine producing country. France.

Once you understand the main French wine regions and the wine varieties that grow there, almost everything else will make sense. I learned this in my early years of experience, and it has served me well. This is the best way to learn about wine.

France has given birth to almost all of the most popular grape types for making wine. Grape types are called “varieties.” When any of them is made into wine, the wine from that grape is called a “varietal.”

Wine Regions of France Main Map (via Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s start with Burgundy, the long thin medium green area just to the right of center on the map.

BURGUNDY  (Borgogne in French)

Located center-right in the map, Burgundy produces both whites & reds, often barrel-aged. Chardonnay is the prominent white wine here. Chards are rich and buttery. Pinot Noir is the prominent red wine. It’s a soft, light, and delicate red. So if you wind up buying a chardonnay or pinot noir from California or any other new world wine region, remember, both of them originated in Burgundy France.

Main White Varietal:

Main Red Varietal:
Pinot Noir (links to more about pinot noir & chardonnay)

Burgundy at


Bordeaux is in South Western France. This is the most famous wine region of all. Many of your favorite wine varietals come from here originally. You love a sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot, right? Each of them started out in Bordeaux. Take the “cab sauv” for example. It’s the most popular red in the world and is produced in such notable areas as California, Australia, and Niagara Peninsula Canada. But you’ve simply got to try it from Bordeaux. Keep in mind, the winemakers in Bordeaux like to blend their wines, so you’ll likely not get a straight cabernet sauvignon. It will probably be blended with a bit of cabernet franc and merlot. That’s the way it’s meant to be in Bordeaux. Enjoy the blend, and notice the rich aromas and flavors of the cabernet sauvignon specifically with its classic tasting notes of black cherry, black currant and cedar.

Main White Varietals:

Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Main Red Varietals:

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot

Bordeaux at


The Rhône is in South-Eastern France (light purple on map), and is divided into the Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône, home of Sablet, Gigondas, Cotes du Rhone, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Northern Rhône wines are delicate and light.

The Southern Rhône is especially captivating and gorgeous to visit. I hope you add it to your list of areas to see. The regions and wines are amazing.The wines can be delicate (usually in the north), and robust (southern Rhone). They are often more “rustic” in character than the wines of Bordeaux.

The wines from this geographically beautiful part of France are every bit as exciting as those from Bordeaux but in a different way.



  • Map of France: ArchimatthFile:France_blank.svg: Éric Gaba (User:Sting – fr:Sting)derivative work: User:Sdaubert, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Burgundy inset map, courtesy