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Transition to Fall with Beaujolais


Every autumn, wine-drinkers get caught up in the frenzy of Beaujolais Nouveau, a bright, juicy red wine released for sale on the third Thursday of every November amid a flurry of celebratory hoopla. With jazzed-up labels on the bottles and lively banners in wine aisles, the wine makes its once-a-year splash, then all but disappears from the minds of wine drinkers.

Made from the generously fruity Gamay grape, regular Beaujolais (as opposed to Beaujolais Nouveau) are wonderful wines. Their combination of fruitiness, brightness and a pleasantly soft mouth-feel makes them fantastic transition wines to sip in fall, to bridge the gap between zippy whites of summer and heavy, stew-worthy reds of winter.

Beaujolais Nouveau vs. Beaujolais Not-Nouveau
All Beaujolais wines are made in the Beaujolais region of France from the Gamay grape, and most all -- nouveau or not -- are made with a winemaking technique called carbonic maceration, in which entire bunches of grapes undergo fermentation. This process brings out the bright, juicy flavors so loved in the wine.

The most obvious difference between Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau is time. Nouveau means "new" and Beaujolais Nouveau is definitely a new wine -- one that travels from vine to glass in less than ten weeks. Relatively light and simple, Beaujolais Nouveau is the very definition of a party wine -- in fact, it was created to celebrate the year's grape harvest.

At their best, Beaujolais wines can be satisfying stand-ins for Burgundy lovers on a budget. Indeed, they possess the vivacious cherry-berry notes of Burgundy's great Pinot Noirs, as well as that wine's legendary silkiness. Enjoy all this, at a much lower cost than the great wines of Burgundy.

Choosing a Bottle
Finding a bottle can be tricky: It's not that there aren't plenty of Beaujolais wines on the shelves -- it's just that not all of them are labeled "Beaujolais."

Some bottles are labeled by the name of the villages (locally know as crus) where the wines are produced. There are ten classified Beaujolais crus in all; however, ones you're most likely to spot include Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, Morgon, Fleurie and Régnié.

Pair with . . . Friends
Cheerful and charming, these wines simply brim with charisma. They're so fresh and approachable, that even white-wine drinkers fall for this red. They're like that friend you can always count on to warm up a crowd, whether it be an informal tailgate or a glamorous dinner party.


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