Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!

What to know about the popular varietal

Americans all understand the importance of the fourth Thursday of November (that would be Thanksgiving). However, for wine lovers throughout the world it’s the third Thursday of November that holds importance — it's the day the year’s Beaujolais Nouveau is released.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that comes from the Beaujolais appellation in Burgandy, France, and is made from the hamay grape. "Nouveau" means "new" in French, and that’s exactly what this wine is. While most wines go through a period of aging, Beaujolais Nouveau goes almost right from the vineyard to the glass. The grapes are harvested (by hand, as is the law in this area), thrown into the pot, fermented for a few weeks, and then bottled. Vintners don’t even pull the grapes off their clusters, instead tossing the entire bunch in and allowing them to ferment whole (a process called carbonic maceration).

Beaujolais Nouveau isn’t expensive; actually, it’s pretty affordable, with bottles hovering around $15. And it’s not complex or for only sophisticated palates, either. It’s light and fruity, almost void of the drying tannins most red wines are known for. Common tasting notes for Beaujolais Nouveau are banana, strawberry, and even bubblegum. In fact, some wine experts find it so juvenile they write it off.

So why are we suggesting you go out and try a bottle? Well, why do you get so excited about those orange boxes of ginger cookies that appear in supermarkets this time of year? For $2, you know you aren’t downing a confectionery masterpiece. But they're good, they're sweet, and they're around for a limited time only. Ditto all of the previous for Beaujolais Nouveau. So grab a bottle of the fun stuff this week and give it a try. Note: be sure to drink it before Valentine’s Day — short prep time leads to a short shelf life. And the 2013 harvest will be ready before you know it.

— Melissa Auman Greiner, The Drink Nation

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