A beginner’s guide to ordering French wine like a Francophile from 1855 Bar à Vins

From Boston.com

A wine from Burgundy, Bordeaux, or the Loire Valley is a great place to start.

Nathan Derri is the sommelier at the newly opened 1855 Bar à Vins in the Back Bay, so he has a very strong handle on French wines. If you don’t, don’t sweat it, he said.

“I can see how French wine can be intimidating, but it’s not,” Derri said. “You just need to pop that cork, sit down, have a glass of wine, taste the wine, and either you like it or you don’t.”

That said, if you feel like you need a little help ordering a bottle of French wine, Derri offered the following tips.

Get to know French wine labels

1855 Bar à Vins has more than 350 bottles of French wine on the menu — that’s a lot of vins! But once you understand French wine labels, it becomes easier to find the type of wine you enjoy, Derri said.

Bottles of French wine are labeled by regions that range from Alsace to Burgundy to Champagne.

“When you order French wine, you don’t order a grape; you order an appellation or area of production,” Derri said. “The area of production usually [indicates] the grape varietal. … If you order a red Burgundy, you know it’s pinot noir. If you order a white Burgundy, you know it’s chardonnay.”

You can always turn to a restaurant sommelier or wine shop expert if you have any questions about which grape varietals are grown in which area, he said.

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