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A slow boat from Beaujolais

By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is released each year on the third Thursday of November, regardless of when the harvest began. This year, Whole Foods, 255 E. Basse, is selling private label Jean Lafite Beaujolais Nouveau.

At press time, Ken Herzig, Whole Foods wine specialist, had not tasted the wine, as it was coming to Texas by boat and land, and because five weeks ago it was still on the vine; Beaujolais Nouveau is picked, crushed, packed, and shipped. “It never sees oak,” says Herzig. “You rely on the producer and you watch the weather, because you kind of have to buy it blindly.”

Unlike other reds, “which have the more manly flavors of oak and dark cherries,” says Herzig, “you’ll hear people describe Beaujolais Nouveau as bananas, bubble gum, and fruit bomb.” Funny adjectives aside, he says the light and fruity red wine is a perfect pairing with holiday meals, actually improves with chilling, and holds up well in mulling spices.

But drink it quickly, Beaujolais Nouveau, best in its first seven months, is not one to keep in the cellar for ages. “It won’t turn to vinegar,” says Herzig, “but it won’t taste as vibrant, fruity, or young.”

Susan Pagani


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