Updated: Dec 9, 2020
It's crazy how time flies, but we are actually just a few weeks off from the start of the holiday season: Thanksgiving! There are many Turkey Day traditions that I enjoy, including turkey with White Castle stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and possibly even that slightly creepy, but always tasty, cranberry sauce that comes out of a can. Enjoy your traditions, but whatever you do, just say NO to Beaujolais Nouveau.
What is Beaujolais Nouveau, you ask? Good. That means you aren't drinking it! It's a wine made from the Gamay grape in the region of Beaujolais, just south of Burgundy in Eastern France. I don't have a problem with this region. In fact, I think some of the best value wines in the whole world come from here. Unfortunately, Beaujolais gets a bad rap because of Beaujolais Nouveau, which is made in a simple style that highlights flavors of bubble gum and bananas. I love bananas as much as the next monkey. Just not in my wine!
These wines are made using the process of carbonic maceration. Essentially, entire clusters of grapes are tossed into the tank. The tank is sealed, and the grapes are crushed under their own weight. When the yeast comes in contact with the juice, it starts to ferment creating CO2 . Eventually, the fermentation process causes the berries to explode. After 4-8 days, the juice will be racked off and the wine will continue undergoing the typical wine-making process. 6-8 weeks later: BOOM! It's overtaking the shelves at your local Trader Joe's. There's actually a rule that is can't be released before the third Thursday in November. A pro tip: drink it slightly chilled, so that you can mask the taste as much as possible. It's a wine that was intended for the fieldworkers to drink in celebration of being done with harvest. You could drink it. But why? Beaujolais has so much more to offer.
Cru Beaujolais, on the other hand, is at the other end of the spectrum. It comes from the best sites in Beaujolais, it has complexity, depth, and the best examples can age, often becoming more Burgundian as they do. The likelihood of getting a solid wine in the $20 price range is also a lot higher than if you're buying Bou
rgogne rouge. The 10 "Crus" of Beaujolais can make magnificent wines, each a bit different due to its terroir and aspect to the sun. The most common on the shelves at your local wine store are Fleurie, Morgon, Brouilly, and Moulin-a-Vent. For those non-French majors out there, Fleurie translates to "flower" and was named due to the floral aromas in the finished wines. Even cooler is Moulin-a-Vent, which literally means "windmill." Drink the flower. Drink the windmill. Do not drink the bubble gum.
So in these next few weeks as you are preparing for your Thanksgiving Day dinner, pick up a couple of bottles of Cru Beaujolais. You'll be glad you did!