Beaujolais On The Bayou

We love it when unexpectedly beautiful wine pairings happen. Sometimes, trying a food and wine pairing that sounds kind of daring can be just the thing.

Our recent revelation was discovering that beaujolais, the fun and fruity French wine made from gamay grapes, is a perfect partner for Cajun/Creole cuisine like hot links, jambalaya, and etouffée.

Actually, the French have long known that good beaujolais — especially the premium category called villages or the top tier cru beaujolais — is a great partner for a variety of foods. (The region is just north of Lyon, the city that gave us dishes like salad Lyonnaise with thick bacon, poached egg, and frisée; pork pâté; and steak frites.)

Gamay's soft tannins, bright acidity, and bountiful fruit flavors are well-matched with meaty, slightly rich foods, and even spicy foods.

"Beaujolais reminds you of why people have been drinking wine for 12,000 years," says Ian Becker, wine director for San Francisco's the Absinthe Group, which includes Boxing Room. "It's really inexpensive, and simple and pure and fun."

We loved the bright cherry flavor of the MARCEL LAPIERRE Morgon Beaujolais 2010 with the spicy duck and pork sausage jambalaya at The Boxing Room. But we just as easily could have been eating shrimp and bacon over cheese grits at Wishbone in Chicago, crawfish etouffée at Bayou on Staten Island, or a rib-eye Bordelaise at Galatoire's restaurant in New Orleans.

Read below for great wines from Beaujolais to try next time you're dining on the Bayou. 

DOMAINE CHEYSSON "Clos les Farges" Chiroubles 2010 (Chiroubles, Beaujolais) $17
Aromas of flowers, tart red currants, and raspberries greet you at first sniff, and the wine tastes earthy, smoky, and salty. See why The New York Times called this the best value in Beaujolais. Find it here.

GEORGES DEBOEUF "1st Prize" Régnié 2009 (Régnié, Beaujolais) $10
The newest cru in Beaujolais, the wines of Régnié are known for being zesty, fruity, and more bold than their neighbors, and the 1st Prize is a perfect example. Find it here.

CHATEAU DE LA CHAIZE Brouilly 2009 (Brouilly, Beaujolais) $14
A lively and fresh wine, the Chateau de la Chaize sings with flavors of strawberry ad raspberry. The Chateau de la Chaize is one of the best-known estates and castles in Beaujolais. Find it here

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