Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Guide: What It Is and How to Drink It

Updated June 13, 2022
Red wine bottle with two glasses

Each fall, shortly after harvest, fresh and fruit-forward Beaujolais nouveau is released. Intended for immediate consumption, Beaujolais nouveau is a juicy number best served with a slight chill. If you don't already know this iconic wine, give it a try this November; it's one you'll want to add to your Thanksgiving table line-up.

Beaujolais Nouveau Flavor Profile

Beaujolais nouveau is a French wine made from the gamay grape. A saturated purple color, the wine has vibrant and fruity aromas and notes of sour cherry, raspberry, strawberry, grape, and banana. The light-bodied wine is juicy, zippy, and fresh due to the carbonic maceration and is more or less reminiscent of really good adult grape juice. Unlike some other tannic reds, the wine isn't meant to be aged; rather, it is intended to be enjoyed upon release. It lacks the complexity of an aged wine, instead expressing fresh primary flavors of red fruits and berries. It also lacks the tannic bite of other red wines, which is why it doesn't age well--or at all. Without tannins, Beaujolais Nouveau lacks the structure necessary to hold for more than a few months.

Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Varietal

Drink Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Chilled and Fresh

This juicy, light-bodied red is best served chilled, at about 55°F (13°C). At this temperature, the fruity notes burst onto your palate, leaving it buzzing and refreshed. To get Beaujolais nouveau to temperature, place it in the fridge for 20 or so minutes before serving. Then, pop the cork and pour. There's no need to allow the wine to breathe like you would other reds, nor do you need to aerate or decant it. This is not a bottle to stash away for some special dinner at a far off, unknown date. You want to drink Beaujolais nouveau fresh, while it is still full of vibrant, abundant red fruits.

Foods to Pair With Beaujolais Nouveau

Beaujolais nouveau is a pretty versatile wine when it comes to food. Because it's released in November, all those warming fall comfort foods are a natural match. Think charcuterie boards full of triple-cream brie, tart table grapes, hard salami, and chèvre drenched in blueberry compote. Cozy dishes like buttery mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, and mac and cheese are great too. You might be thinking, released in November? Goes with mashed potatoes? What about drinking Beaujolais nouveau for Thanksgiving dinner? The answer is absolutely yes. Because Beaujolais Nouveau isn't highly tannic, it's also a great refreshing chilled red when enjoyed sans food.

The Beaujolais Region & History

Beaujolais nouveau is made from gamay grapes grown in France's Beaujolais region, an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) located in Northeastern France near Lyon. Wines made from gamay grown outside of the Beaujolais region cannot be labeled Beaujolais nouveau. The region is also well-known for its traditional Cru Beaujolais wines, which are also made from the same grape but are a different wine altogether.

Beaujolais nouveau falls into a category of wines called vin de primeur, which are wines that are sold in the same year they are made. Traditionally, the grapes are hand-picked during harvest. Beaujolais nouveau is produced using whole berry fermentation, also called carbonic maceration. This process keeps the fresh and fruity qualities of the wine without drawing out the bitter tannins found in the grape's skin. The wine is made and consumed to celebrate the end of the harvest, and it is released to market the third Thursday of November each year.

Mark Your Calendars for Beaujolais Nouveau

If you want to experience this crushable juicy red, mark your calendars to snag a bottle. The zippy, fresh wine is charged with red fruit flavor and is the perfect companion for your Thanksgiving dinner.

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Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Guide: What It Is and How to Drink It