French wines are confusing, and behind maybe Burgundy (Pinot Noir & Chardonnay) no region is more befuddling than Bordeaux. In short, Bordeaux is both a region (on the Atlantic coast of France- we heard there are nude beaches but need to do some research) and a style of blended wine. The classic grapes are all French (and fancy) in origin and include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. This is where the confusion begins, and where most of us end up at a wine shop or a restaurant going what in the fu** is in this wine. Well there are some basics that can help point you, your wallet, and palate in the right (or left) direction.
The right bank, meaning the right bank of the Garonne river, produces wine predominately with Merlot and then blended with others. The most well-known regions of the right bank are Pomerol and Saint Emilion. Conversely, the left bank (of the same river) produces wines with mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. Famous left bank regions include: Medoc, Haut Medoc, Margaux St. Julien Pauillac St. Estephe, Haut Medoc and Pessac Leognan. However, each ‘Chateaux’ or producer does have their own style with what to blend it with and the best way to find your favorite to explore different makers. Bordeaux wines tend to be big and full in style and go wonderfully with steaks, grilled foods, as well as cheese and chocolate. These wines also need a big glass to allow the full array of smells to open up, and out favorites are the Schott Zwiesel Tritan set of six (for the family) and Riedel Vinum Bordeaux set of two (for the apartment dwellers or those who hate sharing)
Pro Tip: Most people have no clue what’s in a bottle so a $10 Bordeaux can be a great gift. It most likely tastes great and the receiver of said gift will think you really splurged on them.