Beaucoup News About Beaujolais

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - November 17, 2006
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By now you have probably heard or read about all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Beaujolais Nouveau. Numerous writers, including myself, have detailed its history and phenomenal worldwide sales. But what really draws people to it every year is its excitement and easy-to-drink qualities. It’s all about hedonism as people smell, sip and gulp this young red.

I get excited about it because it is the first red wine to be released from the Northern Hemisphere. It also hails from Burgundy, my favorite wine area in the world. Some like to look at it as an indication of the general quality of the vintage, true perhaps for Beaujolais itself, but by no means a standard bearer for the entire region of Burgundy, where local variances in weather can mean the difference between a superlative and an ordinary bottle of a wine.

It is rejuvenating to taste and drink such a youthful and unabashedly fruity wine. Take note, all you white wine drinkers who don’t like reds: This may just be the red wine for you. It has almost no tannin or astringency that may keep you from drinking reds. It is as light a red wine as you can get without it being a rose.

And for you strictly red wine drinkers, it would be reasonable to think of it as your white wine for the very same reasons.

But we can all appreciate its beautifully exuberant fruit character. Crunchy strawberry, cranberry, banana, pear and a hint of spice are offered up in every glass. It is not the most complex of wines, but more than makes up for it with its freshness and lightness, as well as its thirst-satisfying ability.

Some wine geeks decry Beaujolais for its simplicity and lack of age-ability, yet it is not priced in the same category as some more-revered labels, nor is it meant to be aged. I was asked by fellow MidWeek columnist Jo McGarry what is the best way to approach Beaujolais Nouveau. I said to chill it down a bit in the fridge for about half an hour, then take a wine opener, open it, pour yourself a healthy glass and drink up! That’s it. This is not a wine to examine and opine over, although every year I hear of people pouring it in a blind tasting for some poor, unsuspecting wine-o and making them try to guess what it is. The guesses are pretty funny, from Yellow Tail Shiraz to Chilean Merlot, and some guess Pinot Noir from Burgundy. You could call Beaujolais Nouveau France’s answer to Yellow Tail, with its marketing success and worldwide adoration. But Beaujolais came long before the cute hopping critter from Australia was put on a label. And Beaujolais Nouveau in total still outsells Yellow Tail.

What to eat with Beaujolais Nouveau? In short, whatever you like. But some things go better than others. I’ve had some really nice pairings with roasted turkey and cranberry sauce. (Oh yeah, if you haven’t checked your calendar, Thanksgiving is less than a week away.) But my favorite pairing is with a plate of paté, assorted sliced salami, and some lighter cheeses spread on lavosh or your favorite artisan bread. Every time I go to Beaujolais, I have it with exactly that and some piping fresh gougeres, a unique French cheese puff that is incredibly good in the midst of a cold cellar. Voila!

But whatever you are serving, don’t miss out on having a perfectly enjoyable and fun bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau at the table. Even if it may not be the “best” bottle of wine you serve to your guests, it will certainly be the one that everyone tries.

On second thought, you’d better have two bottles on the table. Cheers!

Best of Beaujolais Nouveau: Georges Dubeouf Beaujolais Nouveau Villages ($12) The “King” of Beaujolais. Beautiful packaging and consistently high quality.

Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau ($15) Hand-crafted and all natural, the way it used to be made in the “old days.”

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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