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Literally "country wine," this is the third tier of the French wine-classification system. In general, vins de pays are wines made outside of France's more traditional winemaking areas (such as Bordeaux or Burgundy). They are often labeled according to varietal type (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon) and show their general area of origin. Vins de pays can include grapes from a wide area (e.g., Vin de Pays de l'Oc, perhaps the most important VDP area), a départment (e.g., Vin de Pays du Var), or even an individual village. Because this designation only promises grapes from a broad area and blended in no particular style, it can be a challenge to find good wines in this class. Most important--in selecting any wine, really--is the producer's reputation. Since these wines are often less expensive than AOC wines, though, you can try a bunch without really busting your budget.

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