Brand new wine

The release of Beaujolais Nouveau signals the start of the holiday season. Find out how this tradition started and how to best enjoy these attitude free wines. Photo: The Wine Coach

There is an exciting feeling we get from something NEW. Whether it be a new dress, a new tie or maybe a new car, the feeling is exhilarating. Same goes for NEW wine! One special wine is available just weeks after it is harvested—Beaujolais Nouveau.  This year they were released on November 18.

These wines travel from Beaujolais, in the southernmost part of Burgundy, to destinations around the world for their “official” release on the third Thursday of November. Beaujolais is a region that makes mostly red wines from the Gamay grape known for its fruitiness, soft tannins and food friendly acidity.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais Nouveau

About half of the wines made in Beaujolais are bottled early for the Nouveau release and the other half spend time aging in oak barrels until being released in the spring. Nouveau wines are seen by some as a way to celebrate the harvest and gauge the quality of the more “serious” wines to be released in the spring.

Winemaker Georges Duboeuf is credited with developing the idea of Nouveau to help find a unique way to create demand for Beaujolais. He felt that these wines could be released within in weeks of harvest increase cash flow for wineries that typically could not sell their wines till later in the year. By the 1970s Nouveau was a tradition in Paris and eventually all over the world. On the day of the release at midnight the wines would be transported to Paris and other destinations where eager wine drinkers would gladly purchase these affordable wines. Through marketing and other means this became a day of celebration where parties and events drove consumption and purchase of Nouveau.

Most producers in Beaujolais use a unique process called carbonic maceration to create these fruity wines. Unlike traditional fermentation the grapes are not crushed and in fact the fermentation happens inside the grape itself. This process creates fruity wines with soft tannins that are reminiscent of fruit salad. In general, Beaujolais Nouveau is made for early consumption and its flavors will fade after six months or so. Serve these wines slightly chilled at maybe 60-65 degrees to taste them at their best.

Wine snobs and serious wine drinkers tend to look down on Nouveau but they miss the point. Nouveau is about celebrating the harvest and all the hard work that went into that year. These wines are not built for critical acclaim.  Instead, they are meant to be fun wines that appeal to a wide variety of wine drinkers.

Not all the wines from Beaujolais are the light, fun and fruity like Nouveau. For wine drinkers looking to see the best of this region should consider trying Beaujolais from one of the ten Grand Cru appellations. One notable Grand Cru village, Moulin-à-Vent, produces full bodied and structured reds that have the ability to age for up to twenty years.

Given that that Beaujolais is a great pairing to our traditional Thanksgiving feast is reason enough to enjoy these wines. So grab a bottle of Nouveau or a Grand Cru Beaujolais and celebrate the harvest of 2010.

Stay tuned for my video tasting diary next week where I’ll taste some of the 2010 Nouveau along with a Grand Cru.


Laurie Forster

P.S. Want to learn more about wine right from home? Join me for the Pick the Perfect Wine Every Time Web Workshop. Sign up by 11/29 and save:

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Laurie Forster

Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach® is a wine educator, dynamic speaker and author of the award-winning book The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine. Laurie was not born with a silver corkscrew in her mouth. In fact, growing up Laurie thought wine was pink and came in a box. After several stressful business dinners trying to order off wine lists the size of a phone book, she began educating herself on wine. In 2001 she left the business world to professionally study wine and save others from these awkward moments. Laurie began her wine career in Manhattan where she studied with the American Sommelier Association to earn her certificate in Viticulture and Vinification. She has since earned an Advanced Certificate with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), completed her first step towards certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers and has trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. Laurie’s specialty is creating unique corporate keynotes, team building events and group tasting seminars where she can deliver on her mission to demystify wine one glass at a time. She is also a regular contributor to several magazines; a sought after guest expert on TV and radio stations across the country, including Martha Stewart Radio. For more visit:

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