Alsace is primarily a white-wine region, though some red, rosé, sparkling and sweet wines are also produced. It is situated in eastern France on the river Ill and borders Germany, a country with which it shares many grape varieties as well as a long tradition of varietal labelling. Grapes grown in Alsace include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Pinot noir, and Muscat.
Situated on the lower eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains, in the Rhine valley between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, the Alsace vineyard is rather different from any other French wine growing area. Like the region of Alsace itself, the wine culture here is steeped in a Germanic tradition, producing mostly dry or fruity white wines, the most popular being Riesling, Sylvaner and the very fruity Gewurztraminer.
The rules of Appellation contrôlée - and more recently of Appellation Protégée (AOP) are not applied in the same way in Alsace as in the rest of France. In Alsace, wines are produced under a simple "Alsace" appellation, after which the next most important element to be indicated, and the most visible word on the label, is the grape variety or "cépage", Sylvaner, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Edelzwicker, Pinot or a few others. Smaller areas do not have their own appellations, though with many Alsace wines, the name of the village or vineyard from which it comes will also be indicated.