Never tried Gamay before? You should, especially if you already enjoy Pinot Noir.
You may have had Gamay before, but not even realized it. Gamay is a grape that has been around since the 1300s, yet many wine drinkers are not familiar with the name. This is primarily because the most famous wine the grape produces is Beaujolais, the red wine most widely known for the Beaujolais Nouveau craze. But we’re not talking about Beaujolais Nouveau here, the marketing phenomena only available in the fall, we’re talking about Beaujolais, the mature version of the wine available all year.
So what is Beaujolais? First and foremost, Beaujolais is a French wine appellation. It’s also a geographical region, one that exists at the far south of the famous wine region of Burgundy. In this region, the Gamay grape is used to produce red wines, and because those wines are produced in the Beaujolais region, as is the Old World winemaking tradition, they take on the name of the region, instead of the name of the grape.
We like to think of Gamay as a wonderful little secret for anyone that loves Pinot Noir, but is seeking a more affordable alternative. Think of Gamay as the little brother that never received all the attention and accolades that his older sibling did. Even though the older sibling was never as consistent as the little brother, when the older sibling ever did anything well, it was like they could walk on water. This is the same relationship between Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Due to the fact that the grapes were both born in the same region of Burgundy, Pinot Noir has always overshadowed the Gamay grape, except in the subregion of Beaujolais. This means Gamay flies under many wine drinker’s radar, which results in a much more affordable bottle of wine.
The wine produced from the Gamay grape tends to exhibit characteristics that are very similar to that of Pinot Noir. Gamay is a light-bodied, fruity red with tart flavors of cherries and raspberries and even banana. The banana flavor is the result of something called carbonic maceration, but that’s for a geekier post.
Gamay is a great red wine to accompany meat and cheese plates as well as salad dishes and even roast chicken and fish.
So give the little brother some love for a change, and pop a bottle of Gamay.