Almost as much an event as it is a wine, Beaujolais Nouveau is an inexpensive, easy-drinking French red wine released each year on the third Thursday of November amid a frenzied blitz of anticipation and hoopla—perhaps most noticeably through colorful posters and banners proclaiming, “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” (“The new Beaujolais has arrived!”)
Made from the Gamay grape in France’s Beaujolais wine region, Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be consumed very fresh—within the first 4 months to 1 year of release. A special wine-making technique called carbonic maceration—involving the fermentation of entire bunches of grapes—helps it achieve bright, juicy flavors without the mouth-drying tannins of heavy red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon. For this reason, it’s one of the best choices imaginable for white wine partisans looking for an entry-level red. And, because this crowd-pleaser gets along well with a wide variety of holiday foods, its eagerly awaited late-fall arrival is right on time.
—By Charles Smothermon, a food and wine writer in Laurin, Mont.