Posts Tagged ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’
TasteDC has organized many events in the past at the French Embassy‘s “Maison Francais” including the Annual Beaujolais Nouveau celebration which always takes place (by law) on the third Thursday of November..and how convenient, probably the most versatile and light red that easily shines with the complex variety of flavors of many foods, is exactly one week before the Thanksgiving turkey-down celebration! Back in 2005, we organized a TasteDC.com Beaujolais Nouveau event at the French Embassy, and hundreds of people flocked to taste these fun wines, great French fromages and some delicious French fare, see many Photos Here.
The key to understanding this wine is it is meant to be drunk young – utilizing a process known as “carbonic maceration” CO2 is used to quickly press and maximize the skin compounds from the red grapes to produce a generally lower alcohol wine with an intense floral nose. Beaujolais is also 100% Gamay which is considered an inferior red grape to the Pinot Noir of neighboring Burgundy, but frankly is priced so much less, that it gives amazing bang for the wine purchasing dollar!
The story goes that this wine became popular because of Georges DuBoeuf and other Negociants in the Beaujolais wine region (just south of Burgundy) who wanted to sell young wine to improve their cash flow – a very traditional method of financing better wines in France. Wikipedia does a nice job explaining the history and details.
Here’s a schedule of some of the events coming up this Thursday, November 17th, 2011 in the Washington, D.C. Region via NBC Washington. Yes, Beaujolais Nouveau is an excellent wine for Thanksgiving – it has the features I like in a Thanksgiving wine: red, inexpensive and because of relatively low tannin and alcohol, it goes with the unusual range of foods expected to be gobbled down on that day. Enjoy, and cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
- Beaujolais Nouveau at the French Embassy (cellarblog.org)
Embassy of France – TasteDC Beaujolais Celebration 2004
Living in Washington, D.C. has many benefits, especially the fact that almost every country in the world has an Embassy in our city – and many either organize or allow for events such as wine tastings. I’m not exactly sure which was my first Embassy wine tasting experience, but I do remember sometime in the 90’s attending an “Opera and Wine Tasting” at the Spanish Embassy..or was that the Spanish Ambassador’s Residence? What I remember is that it was very dressy, the Ambassador was not there, and the opera singer kept forgetting the words to the opera..oh, and there was plenty of wine to sample! Since that time, I personally have organized over 40 events at Embassies through my company TasteDC and I’ve learned quite a bit about the do;s and dont’s of organizing an event at an Embassy?
1) Choose Wines from a Variety of Growing Regions in the Country
This seems like common sense, but unless I’m organizing a region specific event like the Champagne event or the Beaujolais Nouveau events I’ve held at the French Embassy, it’s best to have a broad cross section of wines from various regions.
2) Hire a Caterer Who Understands the Cuisine and Preparation
I’ll tread on this one lightly – I once hired a French caterer to prepare the cheese fondue at a Swiss Embassy Chocolate, Cheese and Wine Event..and the fondue clumped together! Wow, did the Embassy official who looked at the mess get upset – it was also very hard to get on people’s plates, oh well. It also took us almost 2 hours to figure out how to turn on their oven in the basement kitchen, it needed an old-fashioned match to light the pilot..I could go on and on about mis-haps with Embassy kitchens (food ending up in the purses of Embassy staff, chefs not showing up,etc..), but I also want to include that most of the time things have worked out well. If you’ve ever organized a large event, things will go wrong, that’s to be expected.
3) Be Ready to Bear the Financial Risk
After 10 years of organizing these events for 200+ people, I just decided that it took too much energy to continue to run these hectic events – not only are they time-consuming and difficult, but I was at financial risk. Normally, an embassy charges some kind of rental fee, and of course, the caterer, food, wine and staff are all fixed costs, so many events don’t even break-even until 100 tickets are sold. When I first began holding events at embassies in 1998, there were very few organizations doing so for profit. Of course, once my business took off, every other event promoter in DC began to contact the embassies and do the same or similar events. Sales declined, prices came down, and frankly the amount of sweat and effort it took to make a successful event just didn’t make sense.
OK, this was fun going down memory lane..I think I’ll write more about Embassy tastings in the D.C. area – if you are curious about what it’s like to work with an Embassy, leave me a comment or email me – oh, here are some more photos of an Austrian wine tasting at the Austrian Embassy – – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
One of the most published wine articles in the U.S. is how to pair the perfect wine with the Thanksgiving Turkey and fixings. This is truly next to impossible to do, what with the flavors at the table which go from subtle or even bland turkey (standard Butterball, Organic, Free-Range, Heritage?) to super sweet and fruity cranberries. Add to this the fact that every family seems to have it’s own take on the meal: oyster stuffing, fried turkeys, sweet potato pie with marshmallows baked on top, etc.. So what is your best bet for pairing wine with this traditional meal?
I like to drink wine with pretty much every meal, but not everyone in my family cares for wine, in fact some family members don’t drink at all! If you live in DC, most likely you’ve caught the wine bug and you love to drink with your meal, but maybe your Uncle Ted or cousin Martha is not really a wine lover and prefers jug wine or white zinfandel out of a box, so this is the first hurdle – who’s going to be sharing the wine with you? My solution: provide a cheap $10 or under a bottle of wine that is a well-known brand, one bottle of white like Chardonnay and one bottle of red like a Cab or Australian Shiraz, and keep the bottle of wine you like under the table – it’s your private stash! If somebody protests, simply give them a pour of your wine. If there are other serious wine lovers around, by all means share, that’s what wine, family and Thanksgiving are all about!
So which wine goes best with turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry salad, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, etc..? With such a myriad of flavors, no wine could match all the robust flavors at the table, so wine rule number 1 applies: simply drink a wine you really like..if you’re not satisfied with that answer, always choose wines in the middle range of flavors when you have a broad range of food flavors. For example, a light white wine might get overtaken by all the fattiness on the table and a big Cabernet will overwhelm pretty much all of the subtle flavors. On the other hand light-bodied to medium-bodied red wines like Beaujolais (Nouveau is fine for this meal), Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir are less tannic than Cabernet and often marry well with a variety of flavors. If you like white wine, then Riesling with a touch of residual sugar (off-dry) really does a nice job with a variety of flavors like the sweetness and tanginess of cranberries and the wine’s acidity can cut through the fattiness of gravy. Chardonnay will work in a pinch, maybe a less oaked one will show best, but I find if there are any smokey foods, than oaked Chardonnays work fine. Gewurztraminer? I’ve heard this goes with Thanksgiving a million times, but the fact that it’s such a rich and sometimes overwhelming fruity and can also be a bitter wine, I think it just overwhelms everything. Plus, there aren’t that many affordable and good Gewurz’s sold, so why put yourself into a corner?
A good inexpensive sparkling wine definitely gets everyone in a great mood, goes really well with fatty/greasy foods, and sets the tone for celebration. Rather than spend a fortune on good Champagne, go for a less expensive Cava from Spain or even a slightly sweet Prosecco from Italy – for under $15 a bottle you can enjoy them without breaking the bank!
On dessert wines – they tend to be expensive even when you consider they normally come in half-bottles. If you’re having dessert sweets, skip the dessert wine as a pairing, I find dessert wines paired with sweets to be overwhelming and frankly take away the pleasure of dessert wines. On the other hand, dessert wines make a nice nightcap if you’re not hitting the Scotch or Cognac, maybe a good idea if people are hitting the road! BTW – please watch out for people who are drinking too much, especially if they’re driving – definitely make sure they don’t get in the car inebriated..
Have a happy Turkey from..
Charlie “I Drink On Job” Adler