Beaujolais is loved for its fresh, fruit-forward personality and while people enjoy it year-round, it’s especially popular in the fall and during the holidays!
It’s a French wine, hailing from the titular area just south of another famous wine-growing region, Burgundy. There are four key categories of Beaujolais wine – Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages, and Beaujolais Cru. Of the wines that come from Beaujolais, the reds crafted from Gamay grapes are the most notable.
Gamay is oftentimes compared to Pinot Noir, another popular fall wine choice. Gamay is not an easy grape to grow and can be challenging to properly fruit and ripen. Gamay vineyards are typically planted very densely to counteract this. Beaujolais’s closer proximity to the Mediterranean, compared to Burgundy, for instance, provides the ideal climate for Gamay.
Despite the relatively difficulty growing the grape, Beaujolais is rather straightforward and generally unpretentious, which is why it has so many fans. To achieve its great color and palate absolutely bursting with flavor, Beaujolais is made with carbonic maceration. The grapes are fermented in a very CO2-rich environment with the skins, which produce vibrant hues and bold flavors.
Beaujolais has relatively low tannin levels, making it a suitable accompaniment for many different types of dishes. Also, Beaujolais’s lush red fruit and wild berry flavors are balanced by underlying earthy and savory notes.
Beaujolais Nouveau, one of the four main types of Beaujolais, is a wine that traditionally celebrates the end of harvest season. Each year, the region holds a five-day festival called Les Sarmentelles, and the custom was to float the wine in barrels down the Saône to nearby Lyon, where more revelry for harvest’s end would continue.
This wine is bottled just 6-8 weeks after being harvested. It is light, vibrant, and fresh with aromas of raspberry, cranberry, fig, candied fruit, and banana. Like other Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau is high in acidity and low in tannins, so it’s a favorite on holiday dinner tables around the world.