Wines are produced in most of the regions south of Paris in France. Quantities produced are around 50-60 million hectolitres per year which makes France the biggest producer in the world. France has a long history of wine making dating back to the 6th century BC and for most of the regions to the Roman era.
Qualitywise, French wines are officially classified as:
Vin de Table (11.7%) – Carries with it only the producer and the designation that it is from France.
- Vin de Pays (33.9%) – Carries with it a specific region within France and is subject to less restrictive regulations than AOC wines. For instance, it allows producers to distinguish wines that are made using grape varieties or procedures other than those required by the AOC rules, without having to use the simple and commercially non-viable table wine classification. In order to maintain a distinction from Vin de Table, the producers have to submit their wines for analysis and tasting, and the wines have to be made from certain varieties or blends.
- Vin de Qualité Superieure (VDQS, 0.9%) – Less strict than AOC, usually used for smaller areas or as a "waiting room" for potential AOCs. This category will be abolished at the end of 2011.
- Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC, 53.4%) – Wine from a particular area with many other restrictions, including grape varieties and winemaking methods.
Regions also have their own classification including Bordeaux classification of 1855, Saint-Emilion in 1955 and Burgundy 1936 . France is the source of many grape varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon,Chardonnay,Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah) that are now planted throughout the world, as well as wine-making practices and styles of wine that have been adopted in other producing countries.