By Gary Twining
Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made to celebrate the birth of a new vintage, and is the extreme opposite of all “serious” red wines. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be gulped, on its own, or with food as a wine of pleasure, not to be sipped with comptemplation.
The goal is to drink this wine as young as possible, immediately after bottling, rather than giving it time in the cellar to gain complexity. In the past, Beaujolais Nouveau was sent to America by plane, instead of by ship, and at one time, the supersonic Concorde was used to jet much of the wine to the U.S., from France.
Indeed, there were three, inimitable wine retailers who flew to Chicago to bring the first shipment of Beaujolais Nouveau to Columbus, Ohio every year. They opened a bottle, in-flight, so they could say they were the first Ohioans to taste it!
Beaujolais Nouveau is made with Gamay grapes that are picked by hand in whole clusters. When the grape clusters are separated from the vine, the fruit goes through a unique fermentation process that converts the malic acid to alcohol. The grapes are placed in a sealable tank, and carbon dioxide is pumped into the tank, blanketing the fruit. Deep purple color and supple tannins are efficiently extracted from the grapes, creating a wine with fresh fruit notes, intense purple color, and softened tannins and acids.
Frothy and grapey, bottled before it has had a chance to settle from its birth, Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday of November, the week before Thanksgiving, and is ideally consumed before the first of the year. The average price of the wine is between $9-$13 a bottle.