The production of wine in France is tightly controlled by two organisations. The Instituit National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO). This body succeeded the Comite' National des Appellations d'Origine after World War II and controls the hierachy of French quality wines. The other is the Service de Repression des Fraudes, which is responsible for seeing that the very complicated laws on wine production are carried out. On the French domestic market, every bottle carries a capsule conge', or capsule with the goverment seal on it showing that the relevant tax has been paid. It also shows the wine's quality status.
France has two grades of QWPSR;
Appellation Controlee and Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure,
and two of Table Wine; Vin de Pays and Vin de Table.
Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AC or AOC)
This is the highest level that a French wine can attain. Though the requirements may vary widely from one region to another, they are the most tightly defined and the following point will always feature.
Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure (VDQS)
This classification was established in 1949 as a stepping stone to Appellation Controlee, and many wine originally classified as VDQS have subsequently moved to the higher level.
The laws cover the same ground as for AC wines but are often less stringent on yields and grape varieties. In on aspect, however, the VDQS laws were initially stricter. The right to the VDQS label was only granted after an official tasting. Now this requirement has been extended to AC wines as well.
Vin de Pays
This classification was established by decree in September 1979 partly as a result of an initiative on the part of the wine trade, which wanted to give added value to certain vins de table. At the same time, a broader objective was to upgrade the quality and sharply reduce the quantity of bulk wine being produced in areas such as the midi.
A wine must meet four qualifications to be eligible for this category:
Vins de Table
Forty per cent of the wine produced in France falls into this category. Vins de table can be produced anywhere in the country with no restriction as to the grape variety, though the wine may not be chaptalised. No maximum yield is stipulated, but a proportion of production over 10hl/ha must be sent for distillation and the greater the over-production, the lower the price paid per hectolitre for distilling wine.