November is a pretty great month. Smashed between the high that is Halloween and the anxiety/elation of whichever gift-giving holiday you subscribe to, it's an excellent time. Plus, two of my favorite days of the year take place during the month: Mashed Potato Day (sometimes called "Thanksgiving" by people who are totally missing the point) and Beaujolais Nouveau Day!
Beaujolais Nouveau Day is the third Thursday of November and the first day that Beaujolais Nouveau is available. This doesn't sound all that remarkable until you realize that these wines were harvested just this past summer. Yeah, like two or three months ago. Somehow in a single shoulder season, approximately 30 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are ready to be consumed. Despite this feat, the importance of Beaujolais Nouveau Day is widely debated. On one hand, it's tradition. Nouveau was made as an early release wine to celebrate the end of harvest. On the other hand, winemaker Georges Duboeuf turned it into a wildly successful marketing tool to sell a shit-ton of, well, shitty mass-produced wine. (Watch: in a couple weeks, you're going to see his flowery labels all over the place.) My opinion? I don't care either way because any excuse to celebrate my favorite wine region is a good one.
Although Nouveau steals the spotlight, Beaujolais has so much to offer year-round. From straight-up Beaujolais to Villages to Cru, Beaujolais is a gamay jukebox full of titillatingly tart doo-wop ditties. Although they are all irresistibly fun and thirst-quenching with a fruit-forward simplicity, there are underlying complexities. Beaujolais is the hit of the sock-hop, but it's also the starry-eyed slow dance that makes you want to tear off a poodle skirt. From florally falsetto to blueberry baritones, Beaujolais has got it.
Beaujolais: This stuff is light-bodied, acidic, and low tannin with tons of cherries and cranberries. These wines are from lesser-known vineyards and are labeled as general "Beaujolais." Much like any broad AOC definition, these wines are considered of lesser quality, but some of my favorite bottles have been Beaujolais AOC. One Beaujolais may be thin and flat, but the next could be lean with firm flavors. It varies so wildly from producer to producer, so it's like I always say, "Don't judge a Beauj' by its AOC."
Beaujolais Nouveau: The extremely young version of Beaujolais. These are like the one-hit wonders of the wine world, and its fast production can sometimes lead to it tasting more like one-noted cheap cherry candy than actual wine. But a good Nouveau is quite good. You know the emoji of the horn with the confetti coming out of it? That's what a good Nouveau tastes like, but with a bunch of strawberries and a bouquet of banana. Yes, banana. I don't know why, but it smells like banana and tastes like you could drink fourteen bottles of it because you probably could because that's pretty much what it's made for: mass consumption.
Beaujolais-Villages: Beaujolais made from the 39 sanctioned Beaujolais villages and generally considered of good quality. What makes these villages better than other un-ordained 57? Their shitty soil. It's full of granite and shit, which stresses out the vines because they're like, "Dude, I can't grow in fucking sand!" But they do, and subsequently produce smaller, more flavorful grapes. Beaujolais-Villages takes all the easy drinking we love of Beaujolais and adds layers of minerality, deeper fruit qualities, hints of pepper, and rose with a silkier texture.
Beaujolais Crus: THE GOOD SHIT. The Crus—ten villages atop gnarly granite slopes—produce the most expressive Beaujolais wines. They are the "Unchained Melody"s of the region. Poignant in their poppiness and sentimentally supple, these are the wines that make you be like, "Oh shit, am I in love? I mean, we've been having so much fun… and time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much. [weeps]" That's the thing about these wines—they are aged the longest out of all the Beaujolais for up to five years. They become deeper, spicier, and velvety with notes that go beyond berries and reach into peaches, pears, and violets. "Are you still miiiiiii-iiii-iiiiine?" you'll ask yourself as you cry into the darkness upon your last glass.
So even if you're like, "Fuck Nouveau, it's a grocery store scam!" there is so much of Beaujolais to enjoy. And the cool thing is that you don't have to do it on Beaujolais Nouveau Day. You could just do it every Friday like I do.