What Is Bordeaux Wine?

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By: Tom Valenti


Bordeaux is some of the most sought-after and legendary wines in the world. Known for its distinct terroir, subtle complexity, and profound aging ability, Bordeaux wine has been prized by winemakers and wine connoisseurs alike since it was first made centuries ago.

So, what is Bordeaux Wine? Bordeaux wine is a type of wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France, known for producing some of the world’s finest and most sought-after wines. The wines are known for their complexity, richness, and age-ability, as well as their signature blend of grape varieties. 

To learn more about this unique wine, we will explore the history, taste and flavor profile, major regions, and cru classifications of Bordeaux wine.


What Is Bordeaux Wine?

Bordeaux wine is a type of wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. Bordeaux is known for producing some of the world’s finest and most expensive wines, including red wines, white wines, and sweet wines. It is a large wine-producing region split into two areas: the Left Bank, where Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are most commonly used, and the Right Bank, where Merlot grapes are more prevalent. While white and dessert wines are also produced in the region, red wines are the most famous and popular among the vineyards.

The vast majority (more than 86%) of Bordeaux wines are red wines that are produced using Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc grapes, which are native to the Bordeaux region.  This wine has a medium to full body and is dry, with a typical alcohol content for red wine. It is well-suited to pairing with food.

Bordeaux Tasting Notes And Flavors

Bordeaux Tasting Notes And Flavors

Red Bordeaux Primary Flavors: Black Currant, Plum, Graphite, Cedar, Violet.

A dry, medium to full-bodied red Bordeaux blend is characterized by its high tannins and moderate acidity. The texture, flavor, and color of the wine may vary as the blend can be made with different proportions of various red wine grapes sourced from different regions. Typically, the wine features rich dark fruit flavors such as juicy plum and black currant with a slight astringency from the tannins. It is also common to detect hints of cedar, graphite, and floral aromas on both the palate and nose.

When it comes to finding excellent value Bordeaux wines, vintage plays a crucial role. If you choose an affordable wine from a good vintage, you can enjoy the outstanding quality and the potential for long-term aging. This is a great way to get the most value for your money. 

The Bordeaux Blend

The Bordeaux Blend

The Bordeaux blend refers to a specific blend of red wine grapes that is used to produce the red wines of the Bordeaux region. The blend typically includes three main grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. These grapes are blended together in varying proportions, depending on the specific wine and the preferences of the winemaker.

Other grape varieties may also be used in smaller quantities in Bordeaux blends, including Malbec and Petit Verdot. The precise blend of grapes used can significantly impact the taste and flavor profile of the resulting wine. Bordeaux blends are typically medium to full-bodied with complex flavors and aromas of dark fruit, tannins, and sometimes, earthy or spicy notes. They are often considered to be some of the finest red wines in the world.

How To Serve Bordeaux Wine?

To fully enjoy a Bordeaux wine, it is important to serve it at the right temperature and pair it with the appropriate food. Here are some tips for serving Bordeaux wine:

  • Temperature: Red Bordeaux wines should be served at around 60-65°F (15-18°C). This allows the wine to express its aroma and flavor fully.
  • Decanting: Younger red Bordeaux wines can benefit from decanting, as it helps to open up the wine and soften the tannins. Decant the wine for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
  • Glassware: Use a large, wide wine glass to allow the wine to breathe and release its aromas.
  • Store: It is recommended to store red Bordeaux wines at temperatures below 65 °F / 18 °C.
  • Price: A bottle of excellent Red Bordeaux can typically be purchased for approximately $25 to $30.

Pairing Foods with Bordeaux Wine

The generous structure and tannins of Bordeaux blends make them a great option for pairing with food. The intensity of the wine complements the savory flavors of meat dishes, while the richness of the food balances the tannins. Additionally, the Bordeaux wine can enhance the sweetness and fruitiness of the dish. 

Red Bordeaux wines are often paired with red meats such as beef, Buffalo Burgers, Roast Pork, and Venison. The tannins in the wine help cut through the meat’s richness. Bordeaux wines also pair well with cheese. Red Bordeaux wines are often paired with hard, aged cheeses such as Cheddar and Provolone. Besides, it also combines harmoniously with some herbs (Black Pepper, White Pepper, Oregano, Rosemary…) and vegetables (Roast Potatoes, Lentils, Mushrooms, Onion…)

The Bordeaux Region

A Little History Of Bordeaux

Bordeaux has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the Roman Empire. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Bordeaux became a hub of international trade, with merchants from around the world coming to the city to buy and sell goods. Over time, Bordeaux became known for its distinctive wine blends, which are made from a combination of several grape varieties. In the 19th century, the Bordeaux wine industry faced a crisis when vineyards were devastated by phylloxera, a pest that attacks grapevines. 

Today, Bordeaux is one of the most renowned wine regions in the world, producing some of the most sought-after and expensive wines on the market. Bordeaux has also played an important role in the development of wine-making techniques and traditions. Many of the region’s wine estates have been in the same families for generations, and winemakers have developed their own unique styles and techniques over time.

Major Regions 

Médoc and Graves: “the Left Bank”

Médoc: Located on the Left Bank of the Gironde estuary, the Médoc is known for producing some of the most prestigious wines in Bordeaux. The wines from this region are typically full-bodied and tannic, with flavors of blackcurrant and cedar. A typical example of a Left Bank Bordeaux blend, in order of proportion, may include:

Left Bank Bordeaux Blend

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  1. Merlot
  2. Cabernet Franc
  3. Malbec
  4. Petit Verdot

Libournais “Right Bank”

The Libournais region is located on the Right Bank of the Gironde estuary in Bordeaux and includes several well-known appellations such as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. The wines from this region are typically dominated by Merlot, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon often playing a supporting role. The soil in this region is rich in clay and limestone, which gives the wines a distinct flavor profile characterized by rich fruit, spice, and a velvety texture. The wines from Libournais are generally considered more approachable and softer than those from the Left Bank, making them popular among consumers who prefer a more fruit-forward and less tannic wine. A typical example of a Left Bank Bordeaux blend, in order of proportion, may include:

Right Bank Bordeaux Blend

  1. Merlot
  2. Cabernet Franc
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon

Cru Classifications of Bordeaux

The Cru Classifications of Bordeaux are a system of classification for the wines of the Bordeaux region of France. These classifications were created to recognize the best wines and wineries in the region based on a set of criteria that includes the vineyard location, winemaking techniques, and the reputation of the wine over time. There are several different classifications within the Bordeaux region:

  • Cru Artisans: This classification recognizes small artisan producers in the Médoc.
  • Crus Bourgeois: This classification is based on a quality assessment of regional character for producers in the Médoc.
  • Crus Classés de Graves: This classification recognized producers in the Graves region of Bordeaux and was first established in 1953, with amendments made in 1959.
  • Crus Classés de Saint-Émilion: This classification recognizes the top-quality producers in the Saint-Émilion region and is revisited every 10 years.
  • Crus Classés de 1855: This is a 5-tier classification of producers in Médoc and Graves, as well as sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac from 1855. One producer moved up a tier in 1973.


Why is Bordeaux wine so special?

The triumph of Bordeaux can be simplified to one fundamental characteristic: its geographical position. The weather and terrain of the region are perfectly suitable for producing top-notch wine.

What is Bordeaux’s most famous wine?

Bordeaux is famous for its red wine blends, typically made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes. The most famous of these wines is likely the red Bordeaux blend from the Left Bank, dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon.

Is Bordeaux wine expensive?

Bordeaux wine can range from affordable to very expensive, depending on factors such as the producer, vintage, and classification.

What is the best food pairing for Bordeaux?

Bordeaux wine is versatile and can be paired with a wide range of foods. The boldness of the wine can be paired with rich and flavorful dishes such as grilled meats, stews, roasted vegetables, and hard cheeses.

Is Bordeaux wine dry or sweet?

Bordeaux wines are predominantly dry, especially red wines.


Bordeaux wine is a beloved and revered wine style that has been produced for centuries in the Bordeaux region of France. It is known for its full-bodied, complex, and elegant taste, which comes from blending different grape varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Bordeaux wine has a rich history dating back centuries and is classified into various tiers based on quality and reputation. It is a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of foods and can be enjoyed on its own or aged for years to come. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a casual wine drinker, a bottle of Bordeaux is always a great choice.

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Tom Valenti

Chef/Owner of both Ouest and ‘Cesca, and the Executive Chef of Le Cirque, Alison on Dominick, and Butterfield 81.

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