Vin de Pays
Because the Appellation Controlee system is so ingrained in France, most of its inhabitants have a tendency to view the Vin de Pays classification as somewhat inferior. Meaning literally 'country wine', it essentially says that nothing but the most generic geographical description can be used, and that the grape variety has to be the dominant indicator on the wine's label.
About Vin De Pays
However, French snobbery and protectionism have resulted in a better deal for those who buy other than French wines: because of the rise of New World wines in recent years, grape varieties have become far more prevalent in our minds than regions or subregions, so an average wine buyer with a fiver or more in their pocket is far more likely to recognise the word Chardonnay than, say, Banyuls. What it doesn't do is indicate or guarantee a particular quality level, but then, with so many producers abandoning the AC strictures in favour of the freedom of Vin de Pays, there's quite a lot of good stuff floating around, and the supermarkets do a good job of picking the best of it out.
Major grape varieties: Virtually all the main varieties of France.
Key areas to watch: Vin de Pays can come from anywhere in France, but the Languedoc is particularly strong in this area, so look out for Vin de Pays d'Oc on a label. Other regional Vins de Pays to keep an eye on include, Vin de Pays d'Aude, Vin de Pays de Jardin de la France (Loire), Vin de Pays du Gard (Côtes du Rhone) and Vin de Pays de Côtes de Thongue.