French wines are produced in several regions throughout France, on over 800,000 hectares (over 2 million acres) of vineyards, and in a typical year between 50 and 60 million hectolitres of wine is produced, or some 7 to 8 billion bottles.
France thus has the world's second-largest total vineyard surface (behind Spain) and competes with Italy for the position of having the world's largest wine production.
The earliest history of wine from France goes back to the 6th century BC, and many of France's regions count their wine-making history to Roman times. Over the last several hundred years, France has been the most influential country in the wine world: France is the source of more well-known grape varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah) and winemaking practices than any other country, the names of many wine regions in France such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are well-known throughout the world, and the way the french make their wines have long been the benchmark for winemaking in most wine-producing countries of the world.
French wine therefore plays an enormously important role in French identity and pride, and the combination of their wine with the equally influential food of France has been an important one.
Over the last decades, however, international competition in the wine industry has gotten much more fierce, and France has been challenged both by winemakers of the New World and by traditional wine-producing countries in southern Europe, while domestic consumption of wine has decreased. Since the wine industry in France is very heterogeneous, and ranges from production of very cheap table wine to expensive First Growths and similar "luxury" wines, these changes have hit some very hard and others not at all: while some regions are plagued with constant overproduction of low-quality wines that can't find buyers, and many smaller growers have an increasingly difficult time to make a living, some top producers are more profitable than ever before.
History of Wine
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