Red wine is a wonderful drink, and no matter what your preferred tipple, there’s a lot that goes into each bottle (and we don’t just mean squashed grapes!).
The red wine production process usually involves extracting the flavour and colour from the grape skin and fermenting the juice. Made with dark-skinned grapes, the winemaker macerates and ferments the grape skins and alcohol is formed when yeast converts grape sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Dry red wine is produced when the sugars are left to ferment for a longer time: the less sugar, the dryer the wine.
What is Gamay Wine?
Gamay, also referred to as Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc is a lighter-bodied, fruit-forward grape variety used to make red wine and is most famous for producing the light, red wines of Beaujolais. The variety offers fresh, red-fruit aromas and usually the wines are light and simple although some can be deep and complex. If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, you should certainly give Gamay a try.
Gamay noir or Gamay red wine is best served in a large globe-shaped Burgundy glass so you can inhale all the magnificent fruity and flowery aromas. Expect to smell fresh cut violets, peony and iris blossoms wrapped in plum, cherry and raspberry with subtle notes of potting soil.
Where is Gamay Wine From?
Gamay originated in Burgundy, but in the fourteenth century, it was outlawed by a duke who preferred the pinot noir in the region. Vintners in Beaujolais, a wine region in Burgundy, flouted the duke’s orders and continued to grow Gamay for generations. The popularity of Gamay red wine increased when in 1937, the Beaujolais region became a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).
The 10 Crus of Beaujolais:
- Brouilly: ripe peach and bold raspberry
- Chénas: aromas of rose and peony and woody spices
- Chiroubles: aromas of violets, peony, cherry and red currant
- Côte de Brouilly: aromas of plum, iris and fresh grapes
- Fleurie: aromas of peach, black currant, violets and irises
- Juliénas: aromas of strawberry, violets, cinnamon, and red currant
- Morgon: aromas of cherry, peach, plum and violets
- Moulin-à-Vent: aromas of cherry, violets and black currant
- Régnié: aromas of raspberry and black currant with a hint of spiciness
- Saint-Amour: aromas of red currant, iris and plum
Where Is Gamay Grown?
The Gamay grape is primarily grown throughout the Beaujolais region and the Loire Valley in France, the Niagara Peninsula in Canada and the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Gamay grapes thrive best when grown in higher altitudes with cooler overall temperatures.
How is Gamay Wine Made?
Beaujolais wines are commonly made using carbonic maceration—a winemaking technique in which whole grapes are fermented in a sealed tank filled with carbon dioxide. The lack of oxygen draws out certain flavours known as phenols from the intact fruits, without introducing the high levels of tannins from crushed grape skins that are common in other styles of fermentation. The result is a soft, fruity wine, with a hint of banana.
What Does Gamay Wine Taste Like?
Gamay is most often described as light and fruity with a delicate, floral aroma and earthy notes.
Characteristic tasting notes for a Gamay include:
- Red fruits like cranberry, sour cherry, raspberry, currant, strawberry
- Purple flowers, like violet and lilac
On the palate, the wines are light with high acidity and tart flavours of red fruits along with a bitter note on the finish. French Gamay labelled as Beaujolais, is a bit earthier in taste than Gamay from Canada or New Zealand.
Is Gamay Wine Sweet or Dry?
Wines produced from Gamay are relatively high in acidity – the purple grape variety has a thin skin that is low in tannins (which creates a dry sensation on the tongue), making it not as dry as higher tannic red wines like syrah and cabernet sauvignon.
What is Gamay Wine Similar To?
Gamay Noir is similar in taste to Pinot Noir and this variety, which grows primarily in Beaujolais, is a cousin of Pinot Noir. It is also similar in taste to St. Laurent, Schiava and Zweigelt.
Where can You Buy Gamay Wine and Is it Expensive?
From Tanners Wine Merchants you can purchase:
- Beaujolais, Jacques Charlet 2018, 13.0% Vol for £6.90
- Beaujolais-Villages, Rémi Benon 2019, 13.0% for £8.50
- Beaujolais-Villages, Rémi Benon 2020, 13.0% for 12.95 per bottle
You can also purchase wines online from Wines of Interest
- UVA Non Grata Gamay, 2020, 13.0% for £9.50 or
- Julienas “Les Bottieres”, Manoir du Carra 13.0% for £16.00 per bottle
How to Pair Gamay
It is an easy task for a sommelier to recommend food pairings with Gamay red wine. Because of its natural acidity and low tannins, the wine pairs unbelievably well with a very wide variety of foods. Its mellow flavours make it capable of being paired with fish dishes, salty, caramelised food like roast chicken and even aged cheeses.
A deliciously salty roast chicken and pan juices or herb and citrus roast chicken contrast well with Gamay which adds just the right amount of acidity. It goes well with a rich and complex meat and cheese board as it cuts through all the cream and fat. If you pair Gamay with grilled fish, the light-bodied, fruity wine will complement the subtle taste of the fish because it is not a tart drink.
It also pairs well with:
- Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence
- Chicken with Apricots and Olives
- Chicken dumplings
- Chicken Liver Pâté
- Duck with plum sauce
- Turkey with chestnut stuffing
- Moroccan lamb tagine with apricot
- Beef Stroganoff
- Pork Sausages
- Hangar steak with chimichurri
- Tuna Roll
- Planked Salmon with Soy Glaze,
- Grilled Salmon with Dijon Glaze,
- Roasted Black Cod with Lentils and Pork Belly, Fried Calamari, Cajun Shrimp and Grits
It pairs well with cheeses such as Neuchatel, Chèvre, Comté, Brie, Mimolette, Saint-Nectare, Swiss Raclette, Brie with Pomegranate sauce, Cream Cheese, Farmer’s Cheese, Swiss, Gruyere, Monterey Jack.
Vegetables that go well with Gamay wine include Spanakopita, butternut squash, olive tapenade, roasted potatoes, onion rings, roasted eggplant, portabella mushroom, spinach salad with beets, red quinoa, capers, apricot, dried cranberry, cranberry sauce, walnuts, pecans, butternut squash and acorn squash.
Enjoy the Incredible Versatility of Gamay Wine
Gamay is so versatile and food-friendly that it is referred to as a sommelier’s ‘secret weapon’. Long maligned due to the Duke of Burgundy’s disapproval of it and his preference for Pinot Noir, this grape varietal from the Beaujolais region in France is finally getting the attention and respect it deserves.