Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé!
Another year has rolled around and soon to hit stores and restaurants on the same day all over the world is Beaujolais Nouveau [bohs-zhoh-lay-noo-voh]. Originally the peasant quaff of local harvest celebrations in France’s Southern Burgundy, it eventually moved from the vineyard into local village restaurants, featured as the “new” wine. Its fame spread to Paris where it was shipped on river barges even before the days of trains and planes. The tradition took hold there and ballooned, and by the 1950’s, wine distributors were vying to be first to get theirs to Paris bistros for the annual citywide Beaujolais bash that begins one minute after midnight on the third Thursday of every November.
By the late 1960s the race was on to get it around the world for the occasion. Renowned French winemaker/entrepreneur, Georges Duboeuf, had mounted a marketing campaign, with banners and collectible posters in the world’s wine shops and parties in the fancy restaurants of the world’s capitals. Deliveries were made in remote places by motorcycle, rickshaw, and even elephant.
Now 40% of the 27.5 million cases produced by 2,300 growers in Beaujolais, is consumed in France, the rest exported to 160 countries around the world, mostly to Japan, Germany, and the U.S.
Wine snobs and aficionados of serious, “real” Beaujolais scoff at the light-weight Nouveau, light in color, light in body, light in tannins, and light in intensity. Admittedly, it is pretty much unsuitable for aging, though I have had some vintages still delicious after 4 years lost in the cellar. But many find its youthful freshness appealing. And some just like the tradition and celebration.
What to eat with Beaujolais Nouveau:
Beaujolais is made from the red Gamay Beaujolais grape. For the Nouveau version, the grapes are picked in late September, and the wine bottled after only a few weeks fermentation--about as close to drinking wine straight from the vine as you’ll get!
By law it must be produced by a method called “carbonic maceration” or “whole berry fermentation.” The bunches of grapes are handpicked and placed without being crushed in closed vats filled with carbon dioxide, so that fermentation begins inside the individual grapes and causes them to burst. That and the sheer weight of the grapes causes the juice to run and the conversion of sugar into alcohol to proceed. The process produces fresh and fruity wines that call for lighter foods and simple preparations.
Bistro Fare: Because there is so little tannin in this wine, you will want to avoid serving it with red meats, but it goes well with the following: a charcuterie platter, Quiche Lorraine, mushroom omelet, macaroni and cheese, Chinese takeout, chicken salad with dried Michigan Cherries, leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich with horseradish cranberry mayo and dill pickle, a rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, and green peas, a garlicky grilled pork chop or a ham steak with a baked apple and butternut squash.
Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner: For us Americans, France’s Beaujolais Nouveau is released exactly one week before Thanksgiving, our national foodie day. Serendipitously, the simple, light-bodied, fresh and fruity (and inexpensive!) Nouveau is a perfect pairing for our traditional turkey dinner with candied sweet potatoes or butternut squash, cranberry sauces, gravy, and stuffing.
Gougère: [say gooj-air] A fun-to-make, even better-to-eat treat from the Beaujolais region, this is a simple cheesy puff pastry. It is the perfect pairing for tasting Beaujolais Nouveau.
Ingredients & Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 1 C whole milk or ½ C whole milk + ½ C water
- 6 TBS unsalted butter
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 ½ C grated Swiss emmenthal or gruyère
- Coarse salt to sprinkle on top (I love the pink Himalayan salt available in a grinder in the spice section!)
- Bring milk, butter, salt, cayenne to a boil in a sauce pan.
- Remove from heat and add flour all at once. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball.
- Transfer to the bowl of mixer or food processor to cool for about 5 minutes and mix for a few seconds before adding white pepper, and eggs, one at a time, making sure that each egg is incorporated before adding the next—about 10-15 seconds.
- Allow thick dough to cool for 10 minutes.
- Add cheese to dough and stir with wooden spoon just enough to blend it in evenly. Scoop out gougère dough one TBS at a time, pushing each one off onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Space about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each with a few grains of coarsely ground salt.
- Place sheets in oven and immediately turn heat down to 375 degrees. Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until deep golden brown and crisp. Serve hot.
Starting this Thursday, the Beaujolais Nouveau from several different wineries in your local D&W Fresh Markets and Forest Hills Foods, including a delicious Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé from the Gamay grape and by the same method as the red. Serve the rosé chilled and the red cooled.
During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.
Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.