For wine lovers, Burgundy is a lot more than just a pretty deep shade of red. Wine from the Burgundy region of France is one of the most celebrated wine styles in the world because of its iconic lineage and ancient winemaking practices.
Burgundy can be either white or red wine so long as it hails from Burgundy, France. The Burgundies you know and love are most often just Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this area. Keep reading for recommendations on wines you might like just as much as your beloved Burgundy.
For any red Burgundy lovers, the most obvious choice for a similar wine would be a Pinot Noir. Because red Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Burgundy wine region of France, a traditional Pinot Noir will be the most similar wine taste-wise.
Pinot Noir is a wonderful red wine varietal because it is light-bodied, moderately dry, and full of flavor without being overpowering. It has a characteristic beautiful ruby red color and is usually almost see-through.
If you love the earthy richness of a red Burgundy, chances are you will love a delicious California Pinot Noir. Because this grape is grown best in moderate climates, most of the popular Pinot Noirs hail from California if they aren’t from France.
Pinot Noir is a touch fruity with notes of cherry and red berries, but those flavors are balanced well with earthy notes of mushroom and baking spices. It is a very food-friendly wine because it easily complements almost any dish, but it really shines with poultry dishes like duck or chicken.
If white Burgundy is more of your preference, you will want to reach for a Chardonnay if you want something similar. White Burgundy is simply Chardonnay grapes harvested from Burgundy, so you will not discern much of a difference between the two.
Chardonnay is a true crowd-pleaser white wine. The medium-bodied, creamy, and sometimes citrus fruit flavors that are unique to this varietal make it a favorite of so many because it pairs so effortlessly with food and provides such a great overall tasting experience.
White Burgundy is loved for the rich creamy flavor heavily influenced by the earthy terroir of the Burgundy region. You will experience much of the same with a good Chardonnay from almost anywhere because most US Chardonnay was made by grape plants cloned from Burgundy.
Chardonnay comes in both oaked and unoaked varieties, and both sides of the coin have very staunch lovers and haters. Unoaked Chardonnays will typically call to mind a traditional white Burgundy with their bright, citrus influence, whereas oaked varieties are more spicy and sweet.
Chardonnay is really going to be your ideal choice for a white wine comparable to a white Burgundy.
Another great option instead of a red Burgundy is Merlot. While this particular varietal is more medium-to-full-bodied, very dry, and flavorful, it can be a great option if you’re looking to step a bit outside the box.
Merlot is a bit stronger in the flavor department than a typical red Burgundy, but the rich notes of cherry, chocolate, baking spice, and plum make it a wine worth trying. Many Merlots will have similar earthy notes to it that mimics the Burgundy style.
Popular in red wine blends, Merlot is very versatile and complements a wide range of foods. It is a good wine for almost any meat, but it shines with lamb and turkey dishes specifically. Another plus to Merlot is it is easy to find in restaurants and wine shops alike and is generally affordable.
It may seem like an unlikely choice, but the right Sauvignon Blanc can be a good alternative to a white Burgundy as well. Another French varietal, Sauvignon Blanc is typically heavy on the zippy, sharp citrus fruit flavors and lots of mineral influence, but there are some that are milder like Burgundy.
The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc style that has become popular in recent years would probably be too harsh for many true white Burgundy lovers, but there are plenty of Sauvignon Blancs that have a more soft and round taste profile.
You ideally want what is referred to as an “Old World” Sauvignon Blanc if you’re wanting to compete against a white Burgundy. These style Sauvignon Blancs stay true to the roots of the grape from France, Spain, and Italy and tend to be full of peach, honey, and floral notes.
Although Cabernet Sauvignon is famous for being one of the bolder red wine varietals, certain types of Cabernet could be a great option for a red Burgundy lover. It is a very full-bodied red wine, so it tends to be much more flavorful and tannic than Burgundy, Pinot Noir, or Merlot.
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world and the location where the grapes are harvested has a lot to do with what ends up in your glass. It’s no surprise that Burgundy lovers will likely enjoy a mild Bordeaux-style Cabernet from France over a big, juicy California Cabernet.
A Bordeaux-style Cabernet will have some of the same earthy aspects of a red Burgundy due to the soil in France. Combining that influence with notes of sweet plum, red currant, spices, and tobacco makes for a wonderful flavor that will wow any Burgundy lover.
Red Wine Blends
When in doubt, a red wine blend is a great option if you love a red Burgundy. Because blends typically take the best of each of the grapes included in each blend, the outcome is almost always delicious.
Popular red wine blends typically include a mix of 3-4 dominant varietals as well as sometimes a blending grape like Carignan to round things out. Check the label for a blend that is heavy on the Pinot Noir, Merlot, or French Cabernet Sauvignon and you are sure to find a good one!
Check out blends of specifically French reds to get closest to the earthy, red fruit-heavy red Burgundy you know and love. Most wine shops have sections for each wine region, so a look through the French section will likely yield some great blend options you may never have seen before.