“Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” I announced to Stasha in my best French accent.
“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” replied Stasha. “You’re butchering the French language, Chris. What exactly are you trying to say?”
“It’s Beaujolais Nouveau time!”
“Much better, and you’re right – it is that time of year.”
“I know. According to my research, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released annually on the third Thursday of November, which this year is Nov. 17. That also explains why Chef Pascal is hosting Beaujolais Nouveau tastings and wine dinners at Tradition by Pascal and Brasserie Pascal next week. Remember Pascal’s preview Beaujolais tasting and dinner we attended a few weeks ago?”
“Of course,” said Stasha. “But those were not Nouveau wines.”
“Beaujolais Nouveau is bottled only 4 to 6 weeks after harvest. It’s meant to be consumed young, so it has a lot of fruit but few tannins,” explained Stasha. “But it’s also an indicator of how the rest of the region’s wine quality will turn out once they’re ready to be released next year.”
“So what did we drink?”
“We had George Deboeuf Beaujolais Crus, which are made from the same Gamay grape but have more aging on them.”
“Ahhh … so that explains why Pascal was able to get the wines early. They weren’t early.”
“Exactly. Those were the 2010 vintage, considered one of the best from the past decade.”
“You could tell,” I admitted. “They paired well with the food. Remember the warm pistachio sausage? Or the white fish with Beaujolais sauce, and the baked goat cheese popover with balsamic grape coulis? Did you know Pascal made the coulis from Syrah grapes he grows in his backyard?”
“Doesn’t surprise me,” responded Stasha. “I just pulled up the Beaujolais menu on the computer, listen to what Pascal is serving this time: assortment of homemade pâtés, cold cuts, radishes and warm sausage, choice of Pike Dumpling with Bisque Sauce, New York Steak with Marrow and Wine Sauce, Braised Free-Range Hen Stuffed with Poultry Mousse and Mushroom Cream Sauce, or Grilled Salmon Tournedos with Cabernet Sauce, an assortment of cheeses, and a dessert trio.”
“We should attend that Nouveau dinner and compare the new wine with the Crus,” I said.
“It certainly looks enticing.”
“It’s only $75 per person, and each couple gets a bottle of 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau with dinner,” I added.
“Or we could go next door to Pascal’s Epicerie on Thursday and sample several different Beaujolais Nouveau wines for $15.”
“Let’s do both,” I said enthusiastically. “And if we go to Brasserie on a Tuesday night, we could also take a mixology class. I took a sample class a few weeks ago, but they change it up every week.”
“Chris, you usually drink only wine, not mixed drinks. How did you do in the class? Or did you mix wines?” asked Stasha teasingly.
“It was actually very fun, and educational. Charlene Prinzen, a Brasserie bartender, taught the class. She told me her goal is to have participants use as many different bar tools as possible, and they’ll learn the tricks of the trade as far as how to make a variety of cocktails.”
“So what did you make?”
“Hmmm … well, one was a raspberry tea champagne with sweet tea vodka, raspberry vodka and champagne.”
“That has wine in it – perfect for you,” laughed Stasha.
“We also made a mint tea Tiger Palmer with muddled mint and lemon, sweet tea vodka, cranberry and lemonade.”
“Sounds sweet – right up your alley.”
“And we finished with a berry tea drop martini with raspberry liquor, sweet tea vodka and orange juice.”
“I’m sensing a ‘sweet tea’ theme.”
“That was just for one class.” I explained. “For upcoming classes, Charlene will demonstrate how to layer drinks, how to make dessert drinks and holiday cocktails, things like that. And did I mention appetizers are served that match each drink you make?”
“Sounds fun,” agreed Stasha. “But back to the Beaujolais Nouveau. What other restaurants in Newport are celebrating the Nouveau release?”
“We only have a handful of French restaurants in town, but Pescadou Bistro has the only other special Nouveau menu that I’m aware of.”
“Hold on,” Stasha said turning back to her computer. “Pescadou’s Beaujolais menu lists a choice of Warm Garlic Sausage in Braised Lentils or Escargots, Braised Beef Short Ribs in Beaujolais Wine, Aromatic Vegetables and Potato Lyonnaise, or Roasted Duck Breast with Cranberry and Blackcurrant, Haricots Verts and Potato Lyonnaise, ending with Pear and Almond Tart with Chocolate Sauce. It’s $39 per person, plus Beaujolais at $9 per glass or $34 per bottle.”
“That’s also a good deal.” I acknowledged.
“I think we should do every Beaujolais dinner in town and hit every tasting,” Stasha stated. “Hey, it is the Beaujolais season—“
“During which,” I interjected. “Most of the local wine stores will be selling the Beaujolais Nouveau. And I figured out why the Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday of November.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s one week before Thanksgiving, and based on the tasting notes I’ve read, Beaujolais Nouveau is the perfect wine to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. And, most bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau retail for around $15, making it a real bargain.”
“You sound like a wine salesman.”
“Nope, just a wine drinker. And now, you could say I’m a new Nouveau fan.”