Beaujolais Nouveau is a red (or rose) wine that is known to be light, fresh and fruity! It is a simple wine that the producers hope you will not take too seriously, but rather enjoyably quaff from its release date on the third Thursday in November (this set date is strictly enforced around the world – with exceptions for no one!), right up until almost the following year’s release date. In 2020 the third Thursday in November falls on the 19th!
As a quick introduction let’s have a look at what these two words mean…
Beaujolais [BOE-zjoh-lay] = a wine producing region in France – located just north of the Rhone Valley, but considered a part of Burgundy. *NOTE: This region is famous for its near exclusive use of one grape variety – gamay!
Nouveau = Also known as “vin de primeurs”, Nouveau wines in France are meant to be sold in the same year as the grapes are harvested. These “new”, or “first” wines of the season, go from the vine to the consumer in a few short weeks! This means a very quick maceration period (if even one at all!) + no aging = a very unique product.
What makes these wines so unique? First off they are produced by a method known as “carbonic maceration”. Carbonic maceration is a wine-making technique, also known as “whole berry fermentation”, in which whole bunches of uncrushed grapes are fermented without crushing. It takes place in a sealed tank (no oxygen), in which the grapes break down (this is called intracellular fermentation). This creates alcohol, as well as a number of highly flavoured compounds. Wines made by this method have a deep purple (fuchsia) colour, with both fruity and candied aromas, moderate acidity and low tannin.
When one purchases a Beaujolais Nouveau they can expect that the wine will be 100% gamay, quite light in body and very fruity. Red wines made in this style are great for people who don’t think that they like red wines and can be served slightly chilled (~13 degrees Celsius or 55 Fahrenheit). This style of wine emphasizes the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. Key buzz words used to describe these wines include: fresh, fruity, soft, aromatic and easy-drinking, often displaying aromas and flavours of banana, grape, strawberry, raspberry, fig and pear drop.
Possible Food Pairings include: ham, dried sausage, seared tuna and salmon, turkey (including Christmas dinner with all the fixings!) or one of my personal favourites, salads – especially those featuring chicken or bacon, pomegranate seeds, berries like dried cherries or cranberries or goat’s milk cheese. A classic pairing would be alongside a charcuterie board!