Photo: Francois Mori/AP.
Fall means shorter days and cooler nights. But you don't have to dig out the bold, heavy reds. Beaujolais is a wonderful transition wine. From the Beaujolais region just south of Burgundy, France, only Gamay grapes can be used. Drinking Beaujolais is like slipping into a light linen jacket, whereas Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandels are like wrapping yourself in a wool trenchcoat (in other words, they're better to save for when the temperature drops).
Beaujolais' lighter body, few tannins, high acidity and intense fruit notes make this a great stand-alone wine or one to pair with a hard cheese (such as Raclette) or a soft fromage (feta is a great choice). And with most bottles priced under $15, this is a great excuse to host a wine-tasting party where you and your friends sip through a flight.
Beaujolais Nouveau Day (the third Thursday of November) is when the first bottles are released. Meant to be consumed while young, this wine's grapes are harvested between late August and early September, fermented for only a few days, then whisked into bottles in time for the release. Back in the 19th century, bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau would sail down the Saone River to Lyon not long after harvest. But it was only 24 years ago that the Institut National de l'Origine
created the uniform release date.