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This week, the wine world celebrated the worldwide release of over 65 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau. Each year on the Third Thursday of the November, the French region of Beaujolais releases the first wine of the year’s harvest. The celebration began as a spontaneous affair in the local cafes and bistros. By the 1950s, Beaujolais Nouveau was officially recognized and wine laws were established. Although not as much fanfare as it once had, Beaujolais Nouveau is still a great tradition to celebrate. A regular bottle of Beaujolais is made from the same Gamay grape variety as the Nouveau but enjoys some cask and bottle aging before being shipped out. On the other hand, Nouveau has no aging and in many cases, it is still bubbling from fermentation when you open the bottle. The wine is made through carbonic maceration. This is a fermenation process where whole bunches of grapes are placed in a closed thank. The carbon dioxide that is released causes a second fermentation to occur on a cellular level resulting in a less acidic, less tannic and fruiter wine. The wine is fresh with a deep purple color and runs about 9% alcohol. This wine is drunk for the occasion of it, rather than the character. However, the quality of the Nouveau is said to be an indicator of things to come. That is, if it ain’t half bad, then the rest of the vintage should be good.
Don’t wait too long to open your bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. It should be drunk as quickly as it came, before Easter - if you can wait that long. To get the best out of Nouveau, chill the wine about an hour before serving allowing for a slightly cool but not cold beverage.
One of the top producers in the Beaujolais region and forerunners of the Beaujolais Nouveau fanfare is Georges Duboeuf. Other regions like Italy, California, Michigan and Ontario also produce a Nouveau style wine. Some refer to it as Primeur. Horrock’s has the choices of Duboeuf or Joseph Drouhin. We tried. the Drouhin and it was delightful, fresh, fruity - the perfect Beaujolais Nouveau.
After Dinner Sweets
There is nothing better on these nippy nights than putting the kids to bed, starting a fire and making a cup of coffee served with something sweet. And when I mean sweet, I am not talking cake. Beside the good old standbys of Kahula or Bailey’s why not try something a little different in your coffee? Each of these choices can be served on the side or added to your hot drink instead of sugar and /or cream.
Drambuie – This Scottish liqueur is whiskey-based and flavored with honey and a variety of herbs. It also comes in a cream version called, Sylk Cream. I prefer the Sylk Cream - just remember to store this version in the fridge.
Glayva – This liqueur is similar to the original Drambuie but a touch more spicy and with a subtle hint of citrus.
Godet – A creamy white chocolate liqueur made with a cognac base and white Belgian chocolate. Who needs the coffee with this one?
Godiva – Another chocolately goodness to sip on by the fire. Rich, chocolate liqueur with available in white chocolate or dark chocolate versions.
Ok, ok so it has been two months now and you can’t wait to actually put the glass to your lips. But before you taste the wine, I want you to think about a few things. The first is the initial taste or how your taste buds respond to the sensations. The next is the taste itself – what happens to the wine when you add some oxygen to it, how does it feel on your tongue? The last thing is the aftertaste or what remains once you have swallowed the wine. Science tells us that we can only distinguish sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Over 90% of what we taste is actually smell – think about your Mom telling you to plug your nose before you ate your liver.
If you taste sour it usually means the wine is faulted, gone bad or turned to vinegar. However, let’s not forget the touch of sour when drinking a wine with sharp acidity. Sweetness is found in many white wines and can even be fooled in lighter reds that have fruitiness to them. Wine should never be salty – unless it is cooking sherry and should never be bitter, although you might confuse the bitterness in the tannins that have yet to mellow.
When tasting wine, I suggest trying the wine without food and if appropriate without aeration. Allow your senses to pick up what the bare wine can give you and then bring in flavors of food and the mellowness of airing the wine to taste the differences and enhance the experience. Be careful not to mix mints or overpowering flavors with the wine as these will alter the taste to something that is guaranteed to be unpleasant.
To properly taste the wine, sip a small amount of wine into your mouth and swirl it around, try sucking in a bit of air through puckered lips. The air will help release flavors and aromas. Think about what you are tasting. Swallow the wine and allow your thoughts to continue on what you taste and the length of the wine. That is, how long do those flavors linger. A higher quality wine will generally have a greater length than those of lesser caliber. Enjoy what you taste - you deserve it for being patient! Not done yet - next month - feeling the wine!
What to Serve with Thanksgiving Dinner
Turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie all call out for vinos such as lightly oaked Chardonnays, dry-to semi-dry roses, drier Rieslings and lighter reds like Pinot Noirs, Gamays and Beaujolais. I plan on toting these choices to our family get-together.
Rene Barbier Chardonnay - This Spanish wine is light and refreshing - not a heavy Chard. Great for those “I’ll have something white” drinkers.
Trimbach Pinot Blanc - Classic PB from Alsace. The fruity smoothness is pure heaven!
Chateau Grand Traverse Semi-dry Riesling - A nice selection from Michigan. CGT has several sweetness levels of Rieslings - this one will pair nicely with Thanksgiving.
Argyle Pinot Noir - Oregon Pinot Noir with a silky texture; good use of oak.
Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages - Serve this one slightly chilled. Definitely a crowd pleaser with its fruity tones and light style.
The Beverage Alcohol Report (The BAR) is published on a monthly basis compliments of Liana Bennett. It main purpose is to further the knowledge, appreciation and general enjoyment of all alcoholic beverages. Your comments, questions and tasting stories can be sent to [email protected] . Please feel free to share this e-newsletter with your friends or forward their email address to Liana to be added to the list. Thank you and of course, I hope you have enjoyed The BAR and have learned something new!
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