November 21, 2014

French Friday: Beaujolais Nouveau

Hier, le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé.  On the third Thursday of November each year, the French celebrate the release of the latest Beaujolais Nouveau vintage with fireworks, music, and festivals. Under French law, the wine is released at 12:01 a.m., just weeks after the grapes have been harvested. The Gamay grapes that compose the Beaujolais Nouveau are handpicked in the Beaujolais province of eastern France along the Saône river, just south of Burgundy. The varietal originated about a century ago as an inexpensive and festive drink to celebrate the end of the harvest season. The wine is easy drinkable due to carbonic maceration or whole-berry fermentation. This technique preserves the freshness of the fruit without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. The fruity, cherry-red wine is best served chilled and goes well with our American Thanksgiving menus. Although young wines are not my favorite, I do enjoy observing the tradition and comparing each year's vintage. According to the Business Insider, this year's Beaujolais Nouveau is "a rude wine -- very young and spirited."  Have you tasted it yet?