|Bhaichand Patel writes the High Spirits column in Brunch, the Sunday magazine of The Hindustan Times newspaper.
“I have been always partial to Beaujolais for the simple reason that the wine saw me through my lean years. When I was in college and later as a struggling barrister, I learnt to trust Beaujolais. It was always inexpensive and you didn’t have to be a wine expert to choose a bottle. As long as you bought a bottle that was young you couldn’t really go wrong with Beaujolais. It may not have the pedigree to be a classic wine but that’s fine with me.
The makers of Beaujolais like to joke that Beaujolais is the only “white wine” in the world that happens to be red. They have a point. You always serve Beaujolais chilled, unlike other reds. Wine experts’ basic wisdom is that red wines go with red meat and white wines go with fish and white meats. Beaujolais is an exception. It is better with chicken and sea food, not so good with the red meats.
Last November I had a stroke of luck. I picked up eight bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau at an international bazaar in Delhi. They were probably leftovers from a “Le Beaujolais est arrivé!” party at the French embassy a few days earlier. The bottles were a bargain at Rs 500 each. Why eight bottles? That’s all I could carry from the bazaar site to my car parked at some distance.”
Know your wines
No matter when the harvest begins, on the third Thursday of November the world is treated to the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau wines. Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!
The picturesque region of Beaujolais is just north of France’s third largest city, Lyon. Beaujolais Nouveau is made exclusively from the Gamay Noir grapes grown in Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages but not in the 10 crus or great growths of Beaujolais.
Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration or whole berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.
Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young. In average vintages it should be consumed by the following May after its release. However, in excellent vintages the wine can live much longer and can be enjoyed until the next harvest.
Serve Beaujolais Nouveau slightly cool, at about 55• F. The wine is more refreshing and its forward fruit more apparent than if you serve it at room temperature. This quintessential food wine goes equally well with haute cuisine or regular, everyday fare.