When it comes to food friendly-wine, look no further than Beaujolais. Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape, a variety that produces wines low in tannins, with bright acidity, and fruity and floral aromas. Beaujolais comes in a range of different styles that can influence a food pairing.
In France, there are three categories of Beaujolais:
Beaujolais – This is the region’s largest appellation, covering 24 square miles and over 72 villages. The soil is made up of sandstone, limestone and volcanic rock. The vines grow on flatter land. This results in wines that are lighter and less concentrated. 50% of the production is made into Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau is a young wine released 6-8 weeks after harvesting. It is fermented using carbonic maceration resulting in wines that are fruitier with little detectable tannin and low acidity. They are meant to be consumed within six months of their release. Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday of November and is often part of the Thanksgiving table pairing nicely with the turkey and cranberry sauce. It is a simple wine, meant to drink not sip, creating a perfect match for bbq chicken wings, chips, and dip.
Beaujolais-Villages – This is the region’s second largest appellation, covering 18 square miles and 38 villages. The soils are granite and sandy. The vines grow on hillier slopes. Beaujolais-Villages wines are a better quality than the basic Beaujolais wines. They tend to be smoother, more balanced, and display more structured minerality. The wines are popular in French bistros serving burgers, roast chicken, pork, charcuterie and the like.
Beaujolais Crus – The remaining 25% of Beaujolais production is Beaujolais Cru. There are ten distinguished Crus (villages). Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliana’s, Morgon, Moulin-À-Vent, Réginié, and Saint-Amour. The Cru name will appear on the bottle often with the producer name, but not “Beaujolais.” The vines grow on steep granite hills. The Crus can vary depending on the soil composition from a lighter bodied and floral Saint-Amour or Fleurie to a fuller bodied and more concentrated Moulin à Vent or Morgon. Beaujolais Crus are generally made in the traditional winemaking method similar to a Pinot Noir. Pairings are driven by the weight of the wine, lighter bodied wines pair well with poultry or even a meaty fish like tuna. The fuller bodied wines match well with beef or hearty stews.
This month the French #Winophiles are taking a closer look at wines from Beaujolais. Join our conversation on Twitter Saturday, November 18 at 11 ET. And check out my fellow #winophile’s blog posts below.
Disclosure: The wines were provided as samples; all opinions are my own.
2016 Beaujolais-Villages Natural, Terra Vitis
12% ABV $12 SRP
Light ruby in color with a crimson hue. Notes of raspberry on the nose. On the palate, bright acidity, light bodied with notes of violet and raspberry.
2015 Domaine Baron de L’ Écluse, Les Garances, Côte de Brouilly
13% ABV $29 SRP
Ruby in color with a crimson hue. An earthy nose with black cherry. Light to medium bodied with nice acidity, medium tannins, and flavors of black cherry.
2015 Domaine de Briante, Brouilly
13.5% ABV $15 SRP
Ruby in color with a hint of purple. Earthy nose. On the palate, medium body, nice bright acidity, notes of cherry, plum and spice.
2015 Morgon, Côte du Py, Dominique Piron
13.5% ABV $25 SRP
Ruby in color with a purple hue. Dark red fruit on the nose. Medium bodied with balanced acidity. Notes of tart cherry, raspberry, kirsch, and a smooth, silky lingering finish.
Beaujolais wine is a foodie’s dream. Low tannins, bright acidity, and little oak, make for a wine that pairs with most foods. Because of the range of style from light bodied and fruity to fuller bodied and more complex the food pairing choices are vast.
I started with a cheese board. All three cheeses worked well with all the Beaujolais wines bringing out the fruity characteristics in the wine.
My dinner was a bistro-style meal that matched the wines perfectly. A simple roasted chicken, a classic with Beaujolais. The Red Cabbage Blackberry Caraway Slaw played to the textures and fruit in the wines. The Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash brought out the earthy notes in the wines. It is no wonder that Beaujolais finds its way to the Thanksgiving table with all the Fall flavors. My Thanksgiving will definitely include the red cabbage blackberry caraway slaw with bottles of Beaujolais!
Red Cabbage Blackberry Caraway Slaw
- 1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1-1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-1/2 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 medium red cabbage, cored and finely sliced
- 1 medium apple, cored and cut into matchsticks I used a Gala apple
- 1/4 small red onion, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons toasted almond slivers
- 1 pinch Piment d'Espelette
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- Toast the caraway seeds in a small dry frying pan for about 20 seconds. Cool on a plate.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. Add the caraway seeds and whisk to combine.
- Cut the spinach leaves into thin slices. Put into a medium serving bowl and add the cabbage, apples, red onion, almonds, Piment d' Espelette, and blackberries. Gently toss to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients and gently toss again.
Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 1 lb. each acorn squash, halved and seeded trim bottom if needed to lie flat
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 large shallots, diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup wild rice blend I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice
- ~1-3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season both squash halves with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place cut side down on baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil and roast for about 35 minutes or until tender when pierced with a paring knife.
- Cook the wild rice blend according to package directions in chicken broth.
- In the meantime, in a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shiitake mushrooms, onion, thyme, dried cranberries, and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- When the rice is cooked, add to the mushroom mixture and combine.
- When squash is cooked, remove from the oven and turn oven to broiler. Scoop out 2 tablespoons from each squash half and stir into the rice mushroom mixture. Adjust for taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the rice mushroom mixture into the squash halves and top with grated Parmesan cheese. Broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
A Roundup of the French #Winophile’s posts on Beaujolais
- Jill from L’Occasion shares “No Sleep ’til Beaujolais: The French Wine That’s Keeping Us Up All Night“
- Martin from Enofylz writes “Ready To Elevate Your Beaujolais Game? Go Beyond Nouveau!”
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest writes “Beaujolais Beyond Nouveau”
- Rob from Odd Bacchus shares “Beaujolais Reassessed“
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm writes “Say Yay for Beaujolais“
- Jane from Always Ravenous shares “Beaujolais Wine: A Foodie’s Dream”
- Nicole from Somms Table writes “Cooking to the Wine: Stephane Aviron Cru Beaujolais with Pork Tenderloin While Jumping Life Hurdles“
- Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “Thanksgiving for Two: Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Loin Paired with Beaujolais Cru”
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! shares “Tasting the Beaujolais Pyramid over Dinner”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator asks “Do you know the way to Beaujolais?” Followed up by “We do! Part 2 with Coq a Vin!”
- Liz from What’s in that Bottle invites us to “Discover Real Beaujolais”
- Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla tells us about her “Top of the Central Coast; My Beaujolais Pairing Dinner”
- Michelle from Rockin Red Blog writes “Exploring Cru Beaujolais with #Winophiles“.
- David from Cooking Chat shares “Food-Friendly Red Wine from Beaujolais“.