November's Pour Pairings box is based off of a French wine that has something for everyone: Beaujolais!
Beaujolais is the name of a little area in France just south of Burgundy that makes wine with Gamay grapes. It is a light red wine with aromas and flavors of raspberry, tart cherry, cranberry, violet, mushroom, banana, bubblegum, and yeast. The high acidity and low tannins make this a versatile wine to pair with foods which makes it perfect for meals like Thanksgiving.
There are ten Crus, areas with the highest and most esteemed category of classification, of Beaujolais; each with their own distinct characteristics (climate, soil, altitude, etc.) that add to the complexity and the uniqueness of each wine.
- Juliénas - fruity and floral with strawberry, peach, violet and cinnamon; usually meant to be consumed between four and 10 years after harvest
- Chénas - woodsy and floral; usually meant to be consumed between four and 10 years after harvest
- Fleurie - light, highly aromatic, floral, raspberry, strawberry, peach
- Chiroubles - light, silky, perfumed, peach, raspberry, floral, cinnamon; intended to be consumed within three years of the vintage
- Morgon - fruity (red cherry, plum, peach) turning earthy with age; usually meant to be consumed between four and 10 years after harvest
- Saint-Amour - light, fruity, floral
- Moulin-à-Vent - plum, cherry, violet notes; usually meant to be consumed between four and 10 years after harvest
- Régnié - newest Cru producing young fruity wines with aromas of peach, cherry, blackcurrant and raspberry intended to be consumed within three years of the vintage
- Côte de Brouilly - silky and refreshing with aromas of grapes and cranberries
- Brouilly - young fruity aromas of plum, strawberry, red currant intended to be consumed within three years of the vintage
Bananas and Bubble Gum in Wine???
One of the things that sets Beaujolais apart is its banana and bubble gum flavors. Most of these wines are produced through a method called "carbonic maceration." After the grapes are harvested, they're placed in a tank where the pressure of the fruit on top of each other crushes the grapes at the bottom which releases the juice. The juice comes in contact with the natural yeast on the skins and starts to ferment. The fermentation creates carbon dioxide which forces the oxygen out of the tank. The lack of oxygen causes a reaction to begin inside of the whole grapes that makes them ferment within themselves and then they explode. After around four to eight days, the released juice is collected and the remaining grapes are pressed, then the two juices are blended together to finish fermentation. This is responsible for the aromas of bananas and bubble gum.
Beaujolais Nouveau Day
In 1985, INAO established the third Thursday of November as "Beaujolais Nouveau Day" to allow for a uniform release of Beaujolais Nouveau. The grapes are harvested between late August and early September. It is fermented for just a few days and released to the public. Wines are typically shipped a few days earlier to locations around the world where they must be held in a bonded warehouse till 12:01 am, when the wines can be first opened and consumed. The wines are meant to be drunk as young as possible, when they are at their freshest and fruitiest. They can last up to one or two years but will have lost most of their characteristic flavors by that point.
Beaujolais Food Pairings
Beaujolais can be paired with a variety of foods according to the lightness and body of the wine. Beaujolais Nouveau can be drank alone or as a pre-meal beverage. Lighter Beaujolais wines can be served with light dishes like salads and roasted white meats like chicken, turkey and pork (*ahem* Thanksgiving anyone?). The heavier bodied wines work well with red meats and rich, hearty dishes like risotto.