‘Tis the season for Beaujolais! Not just the recognized Beaujolais Nouveau that appears on store shelves the third week of November and is gone from said shelves (or should be) three months later. Though this fresh and fruity version of Beaujolais has its place in the wine world, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and it does not represent the majority of Beaujolais.The region of Beaujolais is situated in the southern part of the Burgundy appellation in France. Surprising, since Beaujolais differs from Burgundy in many ways, including soil type, climate and grape variety. The primary grape of Beaujolais is Gamay Noir, a very light-skinned grape that produces wines of light body, fresh fruit, great acidity and low tannins. The grape grows on granite and schist soils of the area and the climate is classified as semi-continental – more similar to their southern neighbor, the Rhone Valley, than the rest of Burgundy to the north. Most (over half) the wine of Beaujolais is sold under the basic Beaujolais appellation. This style of wine is quaffable, juicy stuff with low alcohol and pretty much zero tannin. The next level of wine is Beaujolais-Villages, made with grapes from higher quality vineyards. Finally, you have the Beaujolais Crus, the 10 regions of the area that make the top-notch Beaujolais. There is white wine made here, though the percentage is small and it can be hard to find, but worth a try if you do. Beaujolais Cru is why I love Beaujolais. Wine from these 10 communes contain that juicy fruit I love about Gamay, but with some extra depth – the palate has great acidity and low tannins typical of Beaujolais, but with a slight richness that distinguish Beaujolais Crus from other Beaujolais. Best part, these wines come in under the $20 mark (most of the time). The 10 crus are: Morgon, St-Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Mounlin-A-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly and Regnie. So give Beaujolais Crus a try – it’s known as a classic for the Thanksgiving table, and I have tasted it recently with a spicy pasta dish that was a fantastic match. It’s also great with a burger or pizza. However, we did discover that it tastes metallic when paired with carrot cake, so do avoid that pairing!
Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee or for a little less money, try the Charles Lafitte Brut Prestige, excellent bubbles from France that won’t break the bank.Classic PairingsRiesling and Beaujolais wines are classic matches to pair with traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Not only is Riesling a good match for the flavors of turkey day dishes because of the acidity, most Riesling wines are low in alcohol, making it a smart wine to drink if you tend to eat your Thanksgiving meal earlier in the day. After all, you want to stay awake for your turkey sandwich at the end of the day while you watch football! Try the 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington state or the 2011 Clean Slate Riesling from the Mosel region in Germany.Beaujolais wine, which is a light red wine from France, has nice fruit structure and good acidity, making it a classic red wine match for your holiday meal. Try the 2010 Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent Domaine des Rosiers or the 2010 Duboeuf Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents. Both are classic Beaujolais wines, crushed red berries, excellent acidity and have a great finish.All AmericanIf you want to stay with the red, white and blue this Thanksgiving, Zinfandel is the way to go. There are two styles of Zinfandel and you could go either way for your turkey dinner. Choose either a jammy and luscious Zinfandel or a spicy and structured one depending on your taste.If you prefer a jammy and luscious Zinfandel try the 2009 Murphy-Goode Liars Dice Zinfandel. If your palate leads you towards the earthy, spicy and structured Zinfandels, try the 2008 Sebastiani Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.We recommend two other fabulous wines to try if you want to keep it “All American”. The 2011 Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir ; it’s smooth and supple with ripe flavors of cranberry and dried red cherries with a light finish and the 2010 Montinore Pinot Gris from Oregon, which has wonderful stone fruit aromas and a hint of minerality. It is nicely balanced, fruity, smooth and has excellent acidity.Classy and VersatileIf you want a delicious, classic wine with your Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate in class and style, go with white and red Burgundy. Both will pair beautifully with the variety of dishes on your table.Keep it classy and stylish with the 2010 Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Premier Cru Blanc white burgundy. It’s fruity, smooth with rich texture and structure. For a red Burgundy, try the 2009 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin. It’s smooth, supple and is a beautiful bouquet of aromatic floral notes and red fruits.For more turkey day wine suggestions, check out our Thanksgiving Wine Guide for ideas. Do you have a favorite match? Share with us!