Brian and I just had our last student tasting for 2009. We led about 20 students through a flight of French wines. We both love educating college students because they typically haven’t had much exposure to wine so they’re like blank slates! We can get them started on a lifetime of tasting and enjoying great wine.
It happened to be Beaujolais Nouveau night, so of course we had to try some! Beaujolais is a wine region in the middle of France where Gamay is the most commonly grown grape. Gamay is typically used as a blending grape, meaning that it’s very rare to have 100% gamay in a bottle. However, since that’s one of the only varietals that grows well in that region the winemakers aren’t left with many choices. Since it doesn’t hold it’s own against other high quality bottles produced in France, sales suffer. The wine producers in this region got together and came up with the idea of Beaujolais Nouveau (where the wine is bottled and drank immediately after harvesting) as a means to sell their less than stellar wine. The marketing ploy worked and now people around the world celebrate the release of this 7-9 week old red wine on the third Thursday in November.
The cheaper bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau will taste like purple popsicles and the better ones won’t taste quite like the wine you are used to drinking, but instead will have a raw berry taste (almost like drinking grape juice). It’s one of the few wines that is meant to be gulped and not sipped 😉