Photo courtesy of France.fr
Every year on the third Thursday of November at the stroke of midnight anywhere from 30 to 60 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau hit the wine market and tradition dictates that it must be shared with friends and family. But the story doesn’t end there. Beaujolais is mocked and ridiculed even before it is ever uncorked. It is sometimes referred to as “la banane” because of a hint of banana in some of its incarnations.

So is the Beaujolais Nouveau just another marketing ploy? Few people admit to enjoying it and yet it is widely covered in the press, online and in everyday conversation. Somebody is drinking all those bottles. Let’s look at the facts.

Beaujolais is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), belonging to the Burgundy wine region. Its production is located north of Lyon, joining the southern tip of Burgundy and the northern Rhône-Alpes. It’s a red varietal wine which means that it is made out of one kind of grape (Garnay). It is a new wine, bottled just over two months after the harvest so it is low in tannin and fruity. There are different opinions as to how long you should keep it but the rule of thumb seems to be six months. Best served “frais” at 11-13 degrees.

But enough of the facts and on with the drinking. The thing that appeals about Beaujolais Nouveau is that it goes down easily, even for people who normally shy away from reds. Its convivial. You don’t need to take it too seriously. It’s affordable. It’s a good excuse to get together with friends on a chilly evening. How bad can that be?

For a fun and informal meal try a Fondue Vigneronne. Pour the Beaujolais in the fondue pot. Add a sliced carrot, a chopped onion, a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. Bring to a simmer. Transfer to the fondue burner and keep the temperature steady so that it just keeps bubbling (frémissant). Each guest cooks their own thinly sliced beef in the broth. Arrange a small bowl of salt and a few dipping sauces around it. Serve with small baked potatoes. Bon appetit!

Did you just ask what wine should you serve with this? La Banane…what else?

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