A Wine Lover’s View Of The Red Gamay Grape

The red Gamay grape probably originated in Dalmatia in the former Yugoslavia, and was introduced in the Third Century to the Lyon region of eastern France. Because it was often a prolific grape producing poor quality wine its cultivation was forbidden in the Burgundy region of southwestern France in 1395. Gamay is widely grown in Beaujolais, just south of Burgundy, and to a lesser extent in the Loire Valley. It is also grown in Italy, in particular in Tuscany, and in Austria, Romania, and Switzerland, as well as in Argentina and Chile.

Gamay produces a high acid, low tannin, light-colored, fruity red wine. Many people who don’t like red wines enjoy Gamay-based wines such as Beaujolais, produced in the French wine region of the same name. Critics say that it tastes like melted black cherry Jell-O. Unlike most other wines, Gamay wines such as Beaujolais are made from whole grapes. Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the first available wines after the harvest, traditionally hitting the market on the third Thursday of November. Over the years this event has sharply declined in popularity, perhaps because consumers have become more sophisticated. (Of course, some Southern Hemisphere wines are available months previously, because their seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere.) Gamay is a major component of Dole, Switzerland’s best known red wine.

You might enjoy Gamay wines with Appetizers, Cheese such as Emmenthaler, Greek Feta, Muenster, Pasta with Vegetables, Pate, Curried Fish or Chicken, and spicy Mexican food.

Each and every year in mid-November I review two new wines, the French call them vins nouveaux and the Italians say vino novello. At least one of them is a Beaujolais Nouveau, in other words a pure Gamay wine. To make a long story short I am still looking for a fine one, even though I often buy the “best” one available in my wine store. From time to time I have reviewed other Beajolais wine, such as Morgon Beaujolais Cru, which is said to be of much higher quality than a simple Beaujolais. I have reviewed two of Gamay’s cousins, Dolcetto wines discussed below.

The Italian Dolcetto grape is said to be a cousin of Gamay. It also is quite low in tannins. This grape is mostly found in Liguria (the Italian Riviera where it is known by the name of Ormeasco) and The Piedmont, known for some great wines, none of which are based on the Gamay grape. Some would say that it’s a question of tannins, at least partially.

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