Every year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, one of the strongest wine-marketing behemoths takes over: Beaujolais Nouveau season. Wine shops are overtaken with Beaujolais Nouveau displays, restaurants start pouring Beaujolais Nouveau, and people start buying the wine like crazy.
All the hype would lead one, especially a novice, to believe that Beaujolais Nouveau must be worthy of all this attention, and the price tag that goes along with it, but guess what? Beaujolais Nouveau actually isn’t very good.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that has literally been bottled only six to eight weeks after the Gamay grapes that were used to make it have been picked. This gives no time for the wine to mature, no time for delicious flavors to develop, nothing. What you have is just thin, alcoholic grape juice. In fact, the wine is so underdeveloped that it’s recommended that the bottle be drunk almost immediately after you buy it, as the longer the wine sits, the worse it becomes. Also, heed this as an early warning for spring, when you see Beaujolais Nouveau bottles sitting around on sale.
What we have here again is a wine trend that has taken off, and convinced us we should buy it, solely due to marketing. Sadly, this trend gives real Beaujolais, a wine that is absolutely delicious, a bad name. What it also means is that a lot of us go out and buy Beaujolais Nouveau wine, when perhaps we should think twice about it.
The Beaujolais Nouveau trend was started by the French wine merchant George Duboeuf, who is almost single-handedly responsible for popularizing the annual Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon, simply as a way to sell more wine. If you’re in a shop selling Beaujolais Nouveau, you can recognize his bottles as the ones with the flowers all over them. Trust us, you can’t miss them.
All of this is not to say that all Beaujolais Nouveau is terrible; in fact, there happen to be a few winemakers in France currently working to make Beaujolais Nouveau that showcases the fresh wine at its best, brightest and crispest. We hear these wines can currently only be obtained in Paris if you have the hook-up, but it’s a good sign of things to come.
So to repeat, during this time of year, with so much amazing wine out there, you don’t need to fall for all the Nouveau hype. Looking for another wine that will go great at any Thanksgiving dinner? Check out our list of 6 Essential Thanksgiving Wines.