We always love it when some wine snob sniffs in disdain at the Beaujolais Nouveau release. Let’s be real – all the hype and hullabaloo about the annual release of this brand, spanking new wine is just that. And, no, it is not the kind of fine wine you save up for that perfect occasion with a special menu designed around it.
But, we ask, so what?
Beaujolais Nouveau is the first wine harvested in the Beaujolais region of France and is not to be confused with the much nicer Beaujolais Villages or Beaujolais Grand Cru. It is very young wine, meant to be drunk young. If you see a bottle with the words Beaujolais Nouveau on it and the year is older than the year you’re in (okay, you can make an exception if you’re buying in January), you’ve got a bottle that’s probably too old.
It’s always released on the third Thursday of November with big parties in Paris and a certain amount of press, etc., which is probably part of the reason why the snobs love looking down their long, bony noses at it. The other part is that it does tend to be very light and fruity. It’s not a complicated wine that you’re going to spend an hour analyzing.
There are two things we love especially about Beaujolais Nouveau and it’s timely November arrival. The first is that it is a lovely way to celebrate the end of another harvest. As home winemakers, we’re finally winding down the crazed slog that usually starts sometime in August, with the first white grape harvests, then the extended “will we, won’t we?” wondering if and where we’ll be picking grapes on any given weekend. Not to mention all the various tasks that go on with crushing, pressing, racking (siphoning the wine off the leftover skin and stuff left in the container), and other stuff that goes on until the new wines are ready to rest quietly over the winter.
With the Nouveau arriving just when all that work is finished, it’s a great way to toast surviving another harvest – and we have no doubt that’s part of it in France, as well.
But there’s a second part that we discovered long before we starting making our own wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is pretty much your perfect wine for Thanksgiving Dinner. Not only does the light, fruity profile match well with all the different flavors in the traditional feast, including those sweet potatoes with (blech) marshmallows, it’s also a great beginner wine for those members of your extended family who are either new to wine or suspicious of red wines, in general. This is an important point to remember, because while you do want your wine to match your food, you also want your wine to match the people at your table.
We find that almost every year, we have a couple wine newbies at our table, even if some of them aren’t all that new. They just don’t like red wine – or think they don’t. And we have gotten a few converts with Beaujolais Nouveau.
So give this year’s vintage a try with your turkey and let us know how it went.