Cheers! Wine Consultants

Thursday is the day we've waited for all year long

By Dan & Krista Stockman


The weather outside is so gnarly (our eight-year-old’s word for it) that we’re just staying inside, pretending we’re somewhere else.

France, specifically.

Even more specific: The 10 villages that make up the Beaujolais region of France, because at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the first wine of the vintage is released and all of France will rejoice, and we will be rejoicing right along with them.

Welcome to the tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau!

Beaujolais is a wonderful French red wine made from the Gamay grape. It is great with food, interesting enough to drink on its own with a nice, smooth structure and an easy-going personality. Best of all, it’s not Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, so it’s different than what you’re used to, which is always a good thing.

The list of Beaujolais’ attributes goes on: It’s easy to find and inexpensive. The everyday version – called Beaujolais Villages – is wonderful, and you can buy it for about $12. The Louis Jadot version is available almost everywhere and has never let us down.

That’s Beaujolais. Then there’s Beaujolais Nouveau, which is the same thing, only completely different. Regular Beaujolais, like most red wines, will be aged for about a year before release. Nouveau will age about a week.

The grapes for Nouveau are harvested, fermented, pressed and bottled immediately – the wine you pop the cork on Thursday was grapes on the vine in September. The result is a wine that’s as fresh and fruity and fun as grape juice.

Unlike its serious sister, Beaujolais Nouveau is born ready to party. Also unlike its sister, it will not age: Nouveau should be gone by New Year’s Day. It usually has lots of yeasty notes, and also some creamy flavors we suspect come from the tradition of using carbonic maceration, where the grapes are put into the fermenter whole and the enzymes inside do much of the work.

Regardless, Nouveau tastes like no other wine you’ve ever had, because all other wines are aged.

But here’s the best part of Nouveau – you don’t have to travel to France to join the party. Wine stores all over America will be putting Nouveau on their shelves Thursday morning. The truly great stores will start selling them at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

One of those truly great stores is Fort Wayne’s own Wine Time, 6210 Covington Road, which will re-open just before midnight Wednesday night to host a Nouveau party as the clock strikes twelve. As always, there will be free tastings of the Nouveaus being offered and plenty of good cheer.

The Nouveau you will see everywhere – and we do mean everywhere – is the Georges Duboeuf. We’ve found the Duboeuf is fairly consistent from year to year, which on one hand is nice because you always know what your going to get, but it lacks the mystique that Nouveau can bring. Wine Time, however, specializes in wines you can’t find anywhere else, so there won’t be any Duboeuf. Instead, there will be two other Nouveaus that are pricier, but also much tastier. We’ve gone every year (we have to – it was our column that prompted them to start the tradition) and have always loved the Nouveaus Jeff brings in. These wines often are different from year to year and offer a better reflection of the year’s harvest.

In France, the tradition is to drink Nouveau with sausages; here, many people like to drink it with Thanksgiving dinner, since both celebrate the harvest. (It also works well with Thanksgiving because guests who don’t like dry red wines often enjoy Nouveau.)

Whatever occasion you choose to pop open a bottle or two – and celebrating Nouveau Day is a perfectly acceptable choice – enjoy the very first sips of the 2014 vintage and raise your glass to France, where it is probably not snowing.