France: Where to start?

Where to start? That is the question I have been asking myself for at least a year now. If you've been around for a bit, you know my love and appreciation for Old World wines has grown so much over the last year, mostly due to the wine education classes at Corkbuzz. But ever since my eyes have been opened, it's also been so overwhelming. Why?

To start, here's a map of the wine regions of France:

Source: Different Wine Producing Regions in France

Source: Different Wine Producing Regions in France

I mean, look at all of that color! TWELVE major regions. If that doesn't seem so bad to you, the French AOP (Appellation d'Origine Protegee) system ends up subdividing the regions into tiers and has specific laws for each of these, restricting what people can and cannot do with their grapes and their wine. It is never ending, let me tell you. France has the grapes we've all heard of (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, etc.), but it is also home to hundreds of indigenous grapes you've never seen before. I'll never forget when I read on Wine Folly that if you wanted to try a new French wine every night, it would take you over EIGHT YEARS to taste them all. Crazy, right?

So how am I going to start? I'm debating between Champagne and the Rhone Valley. Champagne is a classic region that everyone has heard of (plus I love my bubbles!), but Rhone Valley and its Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre (known as GSM) blends have quickly become a favorite red of mine to drink. Now, I know that learning about France may not appeal to masses, but isn't everyone looking to learn something new? Anyone? Bueller? 

Help me decide! Champagne or Rhone Valley... leave a comment below and tell me which you'd rather hear about, or follow me on Instagram at and leave a comment there. Cheers!