I have a bit of a soft spot for French wines, since my husband surprised me with a 10th anniversary trip to Paris years ago. For me, any wine with a romantic French name will always remind me of that trip. You can imagine how excited I was to be invited to the Beaujolais Barbeque hosted by the Beaujolais Wine Council. Sitting outdoors on a patio on a beautiful day, sampling delicious barbequed fare, and tasting a selection of Beujolais Crus – that’s my idea of a perfect summer afternoon!
Now, I don’t want to give you the impression I know absolutely anything about wine. Usually the hubby handles all that, and if I ever have to choose a wine myself, I use my tried and true method of picking the cutest label. It’s surprising, actually, how well that works out! The label trick wasn’t necessary this time, since the hosts had arranged a well curated tasting, and the only work for me was to appreciate it.
I learned a lot. For example, the word cru is used to classify French wines into regions. There are 10 Beaulojais Crus, from the northern part of the region. In addition, you will also find Beaujolais Villages and regular Beaujolais, from different areas, as well as the young Beaujolais Nouveau, available soon after harvest in the fall. Most wine types avoid the mass produced Nouveau. According to the Globe and Mail, “Nouveau is to good Beaujolais what Velveeta is to cheese.” Enough said – I’ll be avoiding the Nouveau with all the other in-the-know drinkers from now on.
Beujolais is made from the Gamay grape, thinner-skinned and low in tannin, making it a lighter bodied wine. But here’s what you really need to know: these wines are food-friendly and delicious, perfect for summer drinking. Wine writer Karen Macneil said it best: “Beaujolais is the only white wine that happens to be red.” You can serve Beaujolais slightly chilled, and it’s bright acidity makes it a perfect partner for virtually any food. Barbeque? Check. Seafood? Check. Grilled pizza? Check. Cheese and charcuterie? Check. Miss Vickie’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips? Probably. Basically, it’s going to become your go-to wine.
I tasted twelve different wines. Yes, twelve. And although value-conscious, waste-averse side of me insisted on drinking the first 3 glasses, I quickly switched to doing the wine connoisseur swish-and-spit as I saw all the bottles lining up. I had my favourites, but the wines were all surprisingly fresh and delicious. They paired perfectly with the varied dishes on the menu. And the best news is that Beaujolais is incredible value. Most of these were under $20, with the price ranging from around $10 to $25. That’s some of the best value available in a red wine.
For me, Beaujolais feels like it’s made for summer. It’s about things like sunny days and patios, friends and barbeques, and sitting outdoors on the deck or by the lake on a warm night. It’s the perfect girlfriend wine. Try some for yourself. Tell your friends Dani recommended it. And if you find one with a cute label, that’s even better.
Check out another one of our favourite summer drink here.