Tomorrow is Beaujolais Nouveau Day, a holiday you probably weren’t aware of that celebrates a wine you probably don’t know about, but should.
Beaujolais is a wine-producing region in eastern France, south of Burgundy and north of the Rhône. The wine made there comes from the Gamay grape, a thin-skinned, low tannin varietal whose flavors are dominated by red berries. Beaujolais is easy drinking and tends to be quite reasonably priced. It’s generally released after about a year of aging, so you should be able to find bottles of the 2010 vintage now.
And then there’s Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s released to celebrate the end of the harvest season on the third Thursday in November, and it’s made with some of the first grapes harvested that season. That’s right. Six weeks ago, the grapes were picked, crushed, and dumped into concrete fermenters to turn into wine at top speed. The results were bottled and rush delivered to all corners of the world so they could be put on sale tomorrow. In some ways, it’s a gimmick wine. The wine writer Karen MacNeil has compared drinking Beaujolais Nouveau to eating cookie dough. It’s true that it’s not the most sophisticated wine in the world. On the other hand, it’s great chance to experience a young, uncomplicated wine in it’s purest form. This is wine of the moment, as it should be consumed by the end of the year in which it is released. It’s fun and silly, which is something that wine culture quite frankly needs a little more of.By the way, non-Nouveau Beaujolais is one of my favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. It can stand up to the sorts of rich food that are so often served on that day. I particularly recommend the Cru Beaujolais wines, which despite being some of the top wines of their region, are often priced under twenty dollars. My favorites are from the areas of Juliénas and Moulin-à-Vent.