I have vivid memories of being underage in college, and having a friend who worked at a liquor store and was happy to sell me pretty much whatever I might need. (He’d usually purchase it for me and bring it to his apartment — we didn’t do anything so sordid as make the purchases on camera in front of the check-out counter.) I was a young, aimless drinker at the time, so my tastes ranged toward Captain Morgan, cheap beer, or anything in a plastic bottle. But at one point, the liquor store was trying to get rid of a few cases of wine to make room for the next year’s shipment, and as a result I wound up with more than a case of Georges Duboeuf for about a dollar a bottle.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, I drank a few of the bottles, and sold the rest to friends. I wasn’t anything near a discerning wine consumer, so I couldn’t tell you if the stuff was any good. But when I saw a few bottles of this stuff near the checkout counter at one of my usual liquor stores this afternoon, I knew I had to investigate and see how much of a bargain I really received all those years ago.
Beaujolais wine is a high-fruit, low-tannin red wine hailing from the eponymous wine region in Burgundy, France. Georges Duboeuf is one of the chief evangelists of the wine, and has been pushing it in America for thirty years. The wine is generally made from the Gamay grape, but the region typically doesn’t label its wines by varietals. Beaujolais Nouveau would be the first versions of a wine, rushed to market to give us all a chance to taste a new year’s offerings. (Or, in this case, last year’s offerings, which is why the bottle I’m tasting was discounted to $7, from $10.)
How does it look? This Duboeuf is a bright maroon, with mid-range opacity and thin, yet sticky legs. All signs point to a sweet wine.
How does it smell? There’s not much of an aroma — mainly mild red berry scents, with just a hint of vague floral aroma.
But how does it taste? This beaujolais is sweet and fruity, but not too bright or tart. I get mainly rich, sweet berry flavors like blueberry or blackberry. If you strain to find them, you’ll get some slight, light tannins (kind of bland, like wood chips, or orange pith.) Otherwise, this is a bright, fruity wine, with only a bit of astringence to remind you you’re not drinking grape juice.
What should I eat with it? Light cheeses, crackers, vegetables, desserts, or a light vegetable entree. This wants to pair with something light and flavorful, but not at all greasy. Maybe a ratatouille?