A lot of fuss is made each year right before Thanksgiving and not just about the dangers of talking politics over turkey. Everyone has an opinion on which wine is the best escort of all the different food and party guests who might grace the table? We have an easy answer: Beaujolais Nouveau!
Made from the gamay grape native to Burgundy, gamay wines are known as easy drinking, fresh and fruity and meant to be drunk young. But while some gamays can age a bit, the most famous and notorious is the enfant terrible known as Nouveau. It’s new wine that was just made a month or two before the release.
Originally a local specialty for the working class, Beaujolais Nouveau found a champion in Georges Duboeuf, an ambitious wine seller and negociant who transformed the image and accessibility of a wine not respected outside of its home region. That respect took on several forms that have become legend/folklore/mythology. One of these was the New Beaujolais Run: a race from the Duboeuf winery in Romaneche to the Time of London office on the other side of the Channel.
Reading up on Beaujolais Nouveau
There is a great book on Georges Duboeuf, Beaujolais and the Run called “I’ll Drink to That” by Rudolph Chelminski that recounts the race from France to London among many other well-told tidbits of wine lore. It’s a great read and would make a great episode of a racing competition program. It would go nicely with a glass of purple gamay after dinner in a quiet chair away from the clamor of the debate over who-knows-what that started between the green beans amandine and dessert.
The Beaujolais Nouveau has fruit to handle the sweetness of yams, the soft acids to balance the fats of butter and cream, the ability to tame cranberries and bitter greens in salads and refreshing enough to lift the driest turkey breast after all the dark meat was gone. The French peasants of the Beaujolais region knew a winner when they made it, and thanks to Georges that the rest of us can enjoy it as well.