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

Does Pinot Noir come in both red and white versions? Are they the same grape?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how red wines get their color. (Hint: It's not …

Jun 22, 2022

If you're supposed to hold a wineglass by the stem, why are stemless glasses so popular?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains the pros and cons of stemless …

Jun 13, 2022

How much do our taste buds influence our perception of wine?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains how taste sensitivity impacts our …

Jun 6, 2022

What's the shelf life of a box of wine?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains why box wines aren't meant to …

May 31, 2022

Should I refill my own wineglass, or ask the host or server to?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the etiquette or wine service, for hosts and for …

May 23, 2022

What’s the best way to remove the cork from an imperial (a 6-liter bottle of wine)?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains best practices for opening—and serving—large-for…

May 16, 2022