Hey, Hey Beaujolais!

Mark DeWolf

There is a joyous nature to the release of Beaujolais Nouveau. The annual event takes place tomorrow, where every year, Beaujolais producers release their freshly fermented grape juice on the third Thursday of November.

Beaujolais Nouveau seems to transcend its wine-ness. In truth, it is a wine style that isn’t about contemplation or articulation. Aficionados don’t ponder over a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau, nor do wine writers write poetic paragraphs on the wines’ subtle nuances. There is little subtle or nuance about the wines, made by placing whole grapes in a tank filled with carbon dioxide.

The grapes at the bottom of the tank are crushed under the weight and begin fermenting and releasing more carbon dioxide. The excess carbon dioxide initiates fermentation inside the unbroken grapes. The result is a wine with almost no tannins (normally acquired by fermenting grapes’ juice in contact with grape skins) that is rich in fruit flavours, often described as candied red fruit, pear drops and sometimes banana.

It is the simplicity of Beaujolais Nouveau that should be celebrated. The wines were originally made and consumed by the local winery employees and farm workers at festivals celebrating the end of harvest. By the 1950s, a group of local producers recognized the potential of marketing their celebratory wine.

An annual race to deliver the wine to the Parisian market brought attention and media that eventually led to similar races throughout Europe, North America and the rest of the world. Now there are no individual winners as retailers are obliged to release the wines no earlier than the third Thursday of November. But we can all celebrate in this collective victory with our own Beaujolais Nouveau parties.

Beaujolais Nouveau Serving Tips

1. Beaujolais’ fresh, fruity nature is enhanced by a slight chill. Place Beaujolais Nouveau in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

2. There’s no need to break out the big balloon red wine glasses for Beaujolais Nouveau. The wine’s delicate fruit flavours will get lost in a big glass. Serve in a small wine glass or even a tumbler.

3. Serve Beaujolais Nouveau with light fare. Beaujolais makes a great aperitif or try it paired with cured meats or even certain seafood. This is the perfect red wine to match fish. It even makes a good wine for Sunday brunch.

4. Serve it before, with or after a meal. Beaujolais can also make a great match to a post-dinner cheese plate. Serve mildly flavoured cheeses such as brie or camembert.

5. Don’t cellar the wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk early. Enjoy within the first few months after release.

The new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau will be released Thursday, November 17, 2016.

Occasions Recommends

  • Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, France $17.99
  • Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau $15.99
  • Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau $18.99

Next Week

We celebrate the season with local wine and food pairings.

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