What's the difference between Burgundy and Bordeaux?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What's the difference between Burgundy and Bordeaux wine?

—Lana, Philadelphia

Dear Lana,

Burgundy and Bordeaux are both regions in France, and these terms also refer to wines made in those regions.

Bordeaux is best known for its reds, Cabernet Sauvignon- and Merlot-based wines, blended with support from Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. By the way, if you ever hear someone talking about banks in Bordeaux, they're not talking about financial institutions. Several rivers run through Bordeaux. On the Left Bank, facing the sea, are the Médoc and Pessac-Léognan appellations (usually Cabernet Sauvignon-based). The Right Bank includes St.-Emilion and Pomerol (dominated by Merlot).

White Bordeaux, or Bordeaux blanc, is primarily a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. And let's not forget Sauternes, dessert wines that come from Bordeaux, such as the famous Château d'Yquem.

Burgundy is known equally for its white and red wines. The main grape varieties are Chardonnay (white Burgundy) and Pinot Noir (red Burgundy). Lest I sound like a snob, I should also mention Gamay, a grape that hails from the Beaujolais region of Burgundy. The wines of Beaujolais are not typically held in as high esteem as those from elsewhere in Burgundy, but many cru Beaujolais wines are of good quality, and lots of people enjoy fresh, fruity Beaujolais Nouveau every November. However, when people talk about red Burgundy, they're talking about Pinot Noir, not Gamay.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

What's the difference between Port and Sherry?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains what Port and Sherry have in …

Jan 17, 2022

Why does wine taste better at a restaurant than it does at home?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why going out to eat changes the way we …

Jan 10, 2022

Dr. Vinny's Top 5 Questions of 2021

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, revisits some of the most popular …

Jan 5, 2022

Is the price listed on wine reviews the retail price?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where the price in a Wine Spectator wine review …

Jan 3, 2022

What’s your opinion of wine aerators?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how aerators work and whether or not they should …

Dec 27, 2021

Is it safe to drink a glass of wine that was left out overnight?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explain what happens when wine is over-expo…

Dec 20, 2021