3. The right grapes in the right places. The French have a big advantage here, since Roman times they've had the opportunity to see which grape varieties would express character and identity in different climates. You don't see pinot noir and syrah growing in the same vineyard, like in California, and the French are happy to specialize. If an area is mostly suitable for white wine, like Alsace, you don't find a lot of red wine and they're not trying to market cabernet.
4. Oak is not a flavoring agent. Wine has traditionally been aged in oak barrels of various ages and sizes. This does impart a certain character, the slow oxygenation in barrel helps to soften tannins in red wines and can give a nice silky texture to the wine. Barrels can also give some flavor to the wine depending on several factors, typically it comes across as toasty or vanilla/buttery. Well made wines find a balance where the oak is nondescript or compliments the wine rather than overwhelming it. Unfortunately, many American wines use oak as a flavoring agent, frequently using too many new barrels or, especially in the case of inexpensive wines, putting oak chips or staves in the tank to flavor the wine. I think some wineries do this to cover for the lack of balance or structure in over-ripe fruit. If the ripeness in the grapes is balanced there's no need to do this, we even find delicious French reds that see no oak at all.
5. Better value. We see honestly produced estate bottled wines from France with character, balance, and good flavor in the shop consistently for under $15, some of them are even $9.99. Very few of my personal choices for domestic wines sell for under $15. Try something from the Rhône or Languedoc (like Les Hérétiques) against a domestic wine at $10 or $11.99 and you'll see what I mean.
6. Better food partners (okay, 6 reasons). The crisper acidity and the more moderate alcohol levels pair better with all types of food. With a wine at 12.5% alcohol it's much easier to find combinations where you can taste the wine and the food without either one taking away from the other.