Like all wines of the Old World, this gorgeous wine is named for the region from which it comes: Beaujolais, France. Technically it is part of the Burgundy region (which explains why it’s so lovely!) but the climate is more similar to that of Rhone, and the actual character of the wine is something altogether unique. Thus, the Beaujolais gets its own name and own reputation.
Red, rosé, and white wines are grown in this region but the red is the most popular by far. Made from Gamay and Chardonnay grapes, respectively, these wines are produced in the crus of Beaujolais, or small vicinities within the larger region. There are ten crus in the northern part of the region, and these areas are known to produce the most sophisticated, worldly bottles for which the Beaujolais is known.
Although whites and rosés are easily found in Beaujolais, the global star from this region is the simple, rustic red. This is one of those wines you can drink on all occasions – whether it’s a celebration, the end of a long day, a girl’s night in, or a summer picnic. It’s extremely fruity, with lovely douses of red fruits like pomegranate and berries, but also has a high acidity and low level of tannins which creates a beautiful balance.
There are two subsections of production within Beaujolais: Nouveau and Villages. Beaujolais Villages is the northern part of the region that houses the 10 crus, and is typically where you’ll find the more elegant wines. Beaujolais Nouveau isn’t a bad wine – it’s still a French red, after all – but it’s more like the generic version of a high end brand.
Because of the fruity flavor and gentle balance of acidity and tannins, a red Beaujolais can pair well with just about everything. You’ll be hard pressed to find a meat that isn’t immediately amplified when paired with this wine but poultry and game do especially well. Rich, creamy French cheeses are a lovely pair; consider Comté, Raclette, or Brie. Hearty root vegetables, pungent, acidic spices like mustard and horseradish, and fragrant herbs are all wonderful partners to the Beaujolais.
If you’re looking for something to stock up on while you hang out on your fire escape all summer, the Beaujolais is an excellent choice. There are many producers who sell across the world, so call your local wine shop and ask who they recommend!
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