Home Industry News Releases Wine Experts Unanimous: Beaujolais Wines Make the Ultimate Holiday Gathering Companions 

Wine Experts Unanimous: Beaujolais Wines Make the Ultimate Holiday Gathering Companions 

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New York, NY, September 13th, 2023 Nothing screams holiday season like copious amounts of food and wine, though when the pairings are right, drinking your way through the remainder of the year needn’t feel like a burden. The trick? Seeking out light, versatile, and food-friendly wines that promise to please a variety of palates—enter the wines of Beaujolais, the answer to all your holiday food-and-wine pairing needs. For recipes and pairing inspiration, check out our site on Food and Beaujolais Wines Pairings. 

What to Look For 

At their core, the wines of Beaujolais are known for their refreshing, fruit-forward, and food friendly nature, though there are a few key things to look out for when seeking out a bottle to pair with holiday fare. Denise Barker, lead instructor at the Sommelier Society of America, shares that she starts by looking at the wine’s pigment, then assesses its flavor profile. “First, I examine the color, aiming for a vibrant ruby hue that is semi-transparent,” she says, stating that while a good number of Beaujolais wines can boast a deeper garnet hue, she tends to lean towards the lighter end of the spectrum when seeking out top-notch expressions. “[On the palate], the wine should exhibit striking acidity, accompanied by luscious ripe red fruit flavors, plus the hallmark Beaujolais characteristics of crushed gravel and subtle earthy tones,” she says.

Fresh & Food Friendly 

Echoing Barker’s notes, Robin Wright, wine director at Café Carmellini and The Fifth Avenue Hotel, states that when looking for high-quality Beaujolais, she seeks out high acidity, complex floral notes, and abundant fruit matched with equally savory and umami notes—the undeniable backbone to what makes the wines of Beaujolais so food friendly. Barker emphasizes that the wines’ vibrant acidity, as well as their versatility and relatively lighter bodies—particularly when compared to other red wines—are just a few of the reasons why the wines of Beaujolais make excellent companions for classic holiday dishes. “Given the medley of tastes offered by traditional Thanksgiving fare, selecting a wine with robust structural integrity, soft tannins, and vibrant acidity to complement the intricate mix of gentle and bold food flavors is paramount,” she affirms, citing that higher-acid, chillable red wines pair impeccably with a wide range of cuisines. 

Start With a French-Inspired Holiday Apéro 

Whether celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other end-of-year holiday, Barker  suggests kicking off a large dinner with a French-inspired apéro—paired with a bottle of  Beaujolais, of course. “Start your meal with a charcuterie board paired with a bottle from  Chénas or Brouilly, which tend to be on the lighter-bodied side of Beaujolais,” she says, highlighting that the wines’ juicy red fruit flavors bring the savory notes in charcuterie to life. “Give it a chill for an enhanced experience,” she recommends.

The Main Act 

In addition to tasting delicious, the wines of Beaujolais are beloved for their versatility, especially  when it comes to food pairings. While perfect for enjoying during pre-dinner apéros, these  approachable bottles are perfect for carrying over to the dinner table, especially when sipping  with classic holiday fare—and its marriages go far beyond poultry. “While Beaujolais has always  infamously been known for its grand slam pairings with Thanksgiving dinner, its fruity [profile]  and high acidity pair well with the equally high acid and fruity cranberry sauce,” says Wright,  stating that the soft-yet-textured tannins found in the wine also render it perfect for drinking  year-round, as well as for pairing with a variety of dishes from crisp green salads to beef  tartare. 

For a more dialed in pairing, Barker recommends reaching for a bottle from the cru of Morgon to serve with the main course. “Cru Beaujolais, specifically from the Morgon area, paired with turkey and stuffing is my favorite,” she reveals, citing that the turkey’s savory qualities remain balanced by the juicy red fruit flavors and vibrant acidity found in the wine. “It’s a harmonious  combination!” 

About Wines of Beaujolais 

From the foothills of the Massif Central to the Saone River plain, the rolling hills and plains of Beaujolais form a wine-growing area of 67 square miles. The peculiarity of this region is the unique co-existence of various terrains, microclimates, and granite soils which lend structure and depth to wines that are supple and fruity. While Beaujolais does produce a small number of white and rosé wines, the region is best known for its versatile, light to medium-bodied reds – all  single-varietal and mostly made of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc – which account for 96% of all wines produced in the region. Beaujolais is made up of 12 appellations: Beaujolais (red, white, and rosé), Beaujolais Villages (red, white, and rosé), and 10 Beaujolais Crus (reds only: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas,  Juliénas, and Saint-Amour). 

For more information about Beaujolais and its wines, please visit https://www.beaujolais.com/ and https://carnet.beaujolais.com/en/

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