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

I tried to clean a red wine stain and it turned blue. Why?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine stains can turn blue, and how best to …

Aug 5, 2020

How does Wine Spectator review canned wines in blind tastings?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the procedure for blind-tasting wines from …

Aug 3, 2020

When will wine from Virginia get the recognition it deserves?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why Virginia's wines aren't more well-known on …

Jul 31, 2020

Why do Champagne bubbles come from the bottom of my glass?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains carbon dioxide "nucleation sites."

Jul 29, 2020

What's the best way to keep a bottle of wine chilled while traveling?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for keeping your wine cool once it's left the …

Jul 27, 2020

Can I make wine from raisins?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why dried-out grapes can make for some pretty …

Jul 24, 2020