Erin Doman on November 30, 2015 0 Comments Though Beaujolais Nouveau dates back to the days of European serfdom, it became a passing fashion in 1980s London. Ever since then, the third Thursday of every November has come to signify the release of the new vintage of Beaujolais from France. Enjoying the red wine became an annual event as pubs and bars held tastings all around the United Kingdom. Recently, people have begun to turn to the Beaujolais region’s more high end products, but places like the United Kingdom and Japan still import France’s Beaujolais Nouveau in large quantities. The quality of the wine has improved over recent decades and remains a fun and easily accessible option for common enthusiasts. 1. Beaujolais Nouveau History Beaujolais Nouveau gained and retained its popularity due to expert marketing. Ancient history saw the wine given to lower level individuals as a means of reducing the costs of provisions. However, the 1960s saw the wine produced outside of France for the first time and in 1985, the Beaujolais regions began the annual tradition of planning celebrations and festivals around the year’s new releases. The festivities quickly spread around the world and gained momentum as average citizens were encouraged to take part in the festivities. Critics often note this successful marketing as a downside to the wine, but even they can’t deny that it has made wine culture more accessible on a global level. 2. Main Distinctions as a Wine Unlike almost every other type of wine in the world, Beaujolais Nouveau takes just a few weeks to make after the grapes are harvested. The wine is made from the Gamay grapes grown in France’s Beaujolais wine region. Beaujolais Nouveau is made through carbonic maceration to preserve the fruity flavors and aromas. To do this, entire grape clusters are put into a tank or vat. As the container fills, the grapes begin to leak juices, which come into contact with the yeast on the grapes’ skin. At this point, fermentation begins which creates carbon dioxide. Oxygen is forced out of the tank causing a biochemical and enzymatic fermentation within the grape. The berries then explode and after a few days the remaining juices are pressed from the fruit. The juices continue to ferment and the wine is ready in a matter of weeks. 3. Forever a Youthful Vintage Because of the winemaking process used, Beaujolais Nouveau does not age well like other wines. More traditional methods yield high flavor and composition complexities in wines, which help them stand the tests of time. However, the Beaujolais was designed for carefree enjoyment over studied pleasure. The wine has very low tannin levels because it takes time to draw them out of the grape’s skin. As such, the wine has no method of balancing itself as various components break down over time. It is worth noting that some Crus are better after two to three years of aging and some wines have even lasted over a decade. However, these vintages are more rare and very well made. 4. Other Beaujolais There are three quality classifications for Beaujolais: Beaujolais AOC, Beaujolais Villages AOC and Cru Beaujolais. The Beaujolais AOC is the lowest level of this type of wine, but it is known to be a refreshing experience. It has little tannins and a high acidity. Most of this appellation is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau. The Beaujolais Villages AOCs are a bit deeper and darker than the other AOC and comes in white and red varieties. It is recommended to serve both AOCs slightly chilled. The Cru Beaujolais labeled wines are often regarded as the most complex and well made of the Nouveaus. The Crus are capable of aging for a short period of time. 5. Notes on Taste Due to the use of carbonic maceration, many Beaujolais Nouveaus have a distinct tropical banana note on the palate. The individual flavors of each vintage vary with the year and growing region. The primary and common flavors are: Cranberry Raspberry Tart Cherry Mushroom Violet Bubblegum Forest Floor Yeast Strawberry Peach In particular, Beaujolais Villages AOCs have notes of black currant in red varieties and blanched almonds in whites. 6. Growing Regions Though Nouveaus can come from Italy and other wine growing regions, the true wine variety comes from the Beaujolais region of France. It borders Monts de Beaujolais on the West, Saone River on the East, Burgundy on the North and Lyon on the South. The entire wine region is 9 miles at its widest and 34 miles long. The Nizerand River naturally divides the region in two, with different soils on either side. Most of the Cru vineyards are found in the northern section of Beaujolais while the Beaujolais AOC section is mostly in the south. The Beaujolais Villages AOC regions border the Cru areas in an encompassing circle. 7. Growth and Bottling While the Gamay grape grows in much the same way as other grape varieties, the majority of Beaujolais Nouveau is bottled and shipped before harvest is over. Because the grape grows on a vigorous vine that does not root deeply, the fruit develops a high level of acidity in response to hydrological stress. Regardless, the vineyards begin harvest at around the same time as other wine regions, but the manufacturing process is begun in time to be ready for the annual November release. 8. Food Pairings As far as food pairings go, avoid red meat when you are drinking a Nouveau. The lack of tannins does not pair well with protein rich foods. However, the wine’s robust fruity flavors often work with simple foods like macaroni and cheese or sausage. Fondue is a party favorite when the third Thursday in November rolls around. Additionally, if you live in the United States, try pairing this wine with your Thanksgiving or Christmas meals and leftovers. It will pair well with these turkey centric meals as well as the various sides. In particular, Beaujolais Nouveaus and cranberry sauce will find a lively balance on your palate. While a Beaujolais Nouveau will not yield an overwhelming complexity, it is the perfect style of wine for a casual affair or easygoing evening. It will probably pair well with most family meals or party dishes and it does not require you to have the knowledge of a sommelier to enjoy the bold and fruity flavors. Plus, every year you will get the chance to sample a wealth of new and exciting vintages.