As the nights get longer, and the days darker, we draw our friends and family closer to us. We gather together over feasts, acknowledging that we are here for each other, and that we will get though these dark dark days and again celebrate in the light. We pile high our tables with food, and we give each other gifts, some tangible and some less so. A hug. A smile. A loaf of bread. A bottle of wine.
And that bottle of wine just might be Beaujolais.
On the third Thursday of November, the French release Beaujolais Nouveau, a very very young wine, one that was just harvested a few weeks prior.
If you can relate to how you’d feel if you drank all of your wine from the previous year, you can definitely imagine how important this celebration is!
But there’s other Beaujolais too, others that are not quite so youthful and exuberant. This month, the French Winophiles are investigating Beaujolais wine.
Beaujolais is actually the first red wine that I really fell for when I was 21 and lived in the Bay area.
We’d go tasting in Napa and Sonoma, and one of the wines I would seek out and buy was Gamay Beaujolais. I would also ask for it on wine lists because I liked its fresh fruity quality, its affordability, and how well it paired with food. Did I mention affordability? It definitely paired well with my college student budget and cuisine!
And Beaujolais Nouveau was the first wine that I had after the birth of my son in 2003–I brought it to Thanksgiving dinner where I had only one small glass because I was breast feeding. According to an LA Times article, that vintage was superlative because of a heat wave: “It’s the best I’ve seen in my entire career,” said Georges Duboeuf, the leading producer of Beaujolais Nouveau, said. I loved the festive bottle of the Georges Dubeauf that year and we collected dimes in it… until about seven years later when my son and a friend were playing with a ball in the house and broke the bottle!
Beaujolais is an easy wine to enjoy and appreciate whether from the US or France.
It’s a great starter wine for white wine drinkers, too!
For this month’s French Winophiles Beaujolais prompt, Sue and I talked about doing something “fancy” to pair with the Beaujolais; she loves to cook and we love to eat so perfect, right? Except the only time we could coordinate our schedules was on a week night, and with both of us teaching that day, we decided to keep it simple. Nothing too elaborate, especially since the previous Tuesday we’d gone all out and made cioppino… yes, on a school night.
As Beaujolais pairs so easily with so many foods, many people recommend it for Thanksgiving, and we even toyed with the idea of making a turkey or a ham, but again, school night. This did get us thinking about that time at holiday gatherings between breakfast –often a HUGE holiday breakfast– and that HUGE holiday dinner when you want to eat something but nothing too heavy. And you’d like to have wine, but again nothing too heavy.
And that’s where we came up with the idea of pairing the Beaujolais with gourmet mini-pizzas, squash soup, and, inspired by persimmons from Melissa’s produce, a beet, apple, and persimmon salad with candied pecans and goat cheese dressed with splash of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Gourmet mini-pizzas are a great appetizer or light meal. And making mini-pizzas together can be a lot of fun– combining different ingredients and then sharing the results. Kids love it.
We do these about once a month (my son thinks we should do them once a week! or even every night!), and when we collect the ingredients, we think about what would go best with the wine. So for these mini-pizzas, we kept the Beaujolais in mind. You may have noticed a spate of mini-pizza pictures, posts, and references; just by luck, I published our zinfandel tasting that we did in August on Zin Day Nov. 16, and we also chose to do them with the Tempranillo which we tasted on the same night as the Beaujolais. We made different pizzas to go with the different wines.
Laboure – Roi – 2014 Fleurie – Appellation Fleurie Contrôlée – 12.5% alcohol $16
People buy Beaujolais because it is bright and light, lovely and fresh, and usually sold at a lower price point, and this wine hit the mark. There is a bit of effervescence on this wine that is a bit off putting. The wine was chilled but not cold. The nose is very delightful and fun, fruity and fresh.
The gourmet pizzas were fun with this wine. The salmon and asparagus, or brie and mushroom pizza and even the artichoke spinach dip pizza went well with this wine. It was also wonderful with the brie and pate. It also went nicely with the beet, apple, persimmon salad that we prepared.
While great with appetizers we don’t think it would stand up as well to a Thanksgiving dinner as would a zinfandel which we prefer. There are much bolder wines that would go well with all the rich sides and turkey.
However, this would be a great wine for appetizers and starters and depending on your menu and preparations, it might go well with a cornish game hen or chicken but with a whole thanksgiving dinner it is much too light. This wine went beautifully with our pate and mushroom brie so don’t be afraid of rich and creamy.
I found this bottle at The Ventura Wine Store; it was the only one they had, and we were quite happy with it. It also taught me that sometimes you have to read the fine print: I was looking to see Beaujolais on the front of the bottle and didn’t realize that Fleurie meant Beaujolais! I am constantly reminded how much there is to learn about wine…
Beaujolais Nouveau – 2016 – 12% alcohol – $11
Yesterday, I told Sue that I just couldn’t put this post up without talking about the newly released Beaujolais Nouveau, so I went to the Ventura Wine Store and bought this bottle — again, the only one they had (I understand Trader Joe carries it as well).
This bottle of wine has a very fun retro partiesque label. The tulip shaped glass (similar to a Pinot Grigio style). brings out the fun fruit in the wine. The giant glass captures a lot of the exuberance in the nose, and the pretty pink color swirls beautifully in the glass.
Nice fun fresh fruity, almost like a young wine barrel sample, lively, this wine is alive and has a nice fruity finish, that doesn’t linger for a long time but leaves your palate feeling clean, lingering of watermelon and the tanginess of fresh pomegranate.
It is fun on its own, and makes a nice cocktail wine. This is a great transition wine from the end of the day and a nice way to start off an evening kind of wine because it is nice and light, not heavy and bold. It fits in where you don’t want a big bold wine. This is not a wine for a big beefy meal but for a before meal wine with appetizers and music, this wine fits in perfectly.
Rosemary and raison crackers with wild mushroom brie are heavenly with this wine.
We imagined that this would go wonderfully with our persimmon, beet, and apple salad that paired so well with the 2014.
For more reviews of Beaujolais Wine as well as ideas on what to pair with both Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau, visit:
- Michelle from Rockin’ Red Blog who presents Beaujolais: Ah To Be Young Wild and Free.
- Jeff from FoodWineClick! who shares A Fall Day in Beaujolais and Beaujolais: A Versatile Partner for Hunter’s Chicken
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog who reveals A Great Everyday Red Wine
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm who shares Look What I’m Bringing to the #TastyParTEA and Sharing with #Winophiles
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla who offers Sole Véronique with a Château Thivin Brouilly
- Jill from L’Occasion brings us The Crus of Beaujolais