Beaujolais and Burgers

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French red Beaujolais: you may know it is the Gamay grape, and you probably know the ‘Nouveau’ version, which is released with hoopla on the third Thursday of November – literally just weeks after harvest – for non-cerebral glugging. But also know this: you can have fun with Nouveau for sure, but the serious stuff – Beaujolais Cru- is seriously interesting wine worth exploring, pairing, and even cellaring.

Explore – Beaujolais Cru is the top-level Beaujolais appellation, wherein the wine is named and labeled for one of ten specific crus (vineyard areas) given this official top rank based on soil composition and vineyard exposition, which is basically slope and sun exposure. My favorites among the crus are Brouilly, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie and Julienas. Generally the best artisanal producers are imported to the United States by boutique importers who hand-pick the wines in their portfolios, and then work to ensure they are placed in fine wine shops and on top wine lists. So, best to venture beyond the supermarket to a good wine shop to find worthy examples. In this video we interview Chateau du Moulin-a-Vent proprietor Edouard Parinet, whose family is reviving this classic property in the great Moulin-a-Vent Beaujolais Cru.

Pair – Hard to go wrong here, because Beaujolais cru has the perfect balance of supple fruit, lively acidity and lusty earthiness to match with so many things: French classic dishes like Coq au Vin or an omelette, spicy dishes (no excessive tannin or alcohol to clash with bold flavors), and one of my favorite combos – burgers on the grill. Serve the wine at cellar temperature, which means slightly chilled, and it definitely beats beer in terms of a match with those beefy, smoky flavors. Watch our live video broadcast below for more on this great pairing, as well as my husband John’s tips on making an awesome burger.

Cellar – It’s not something we Americans do much, and for good reason. Storing wine requires space, the right conditions (see my video here for details), and patience. But, if you have the space and the opportunity, great cru Beaujolais is one of the most “affordable agers” – my husband John’s and my category of wines that get better with (proper) aging but aren’t crazy-expensive. I have had cru Beaujolais at 20 years that was sublime.

Here’s the pairing video:

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