Explore Gamay in the SUmmer - Part One

The weather in MI is finally heating up with summer-like temperatures.  Normally during this time, I see a number of people switch to roses and white wines.  It makes sense.  Who wants to drink a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon in the summer (BTW – I do).  However, I think that we all crave something a bit more refreshing and to drink slightly chilled for enjoyment.  Continuing on in our series of lower tannin reds, today I wish to present to you the lovely grape variety called Gamey.

Now, you may have never heard of this variety by the grape name.  However, you have seen it and been exposed to it by another name and that’s Beaujolais.  This is the primary red grape from the region.  To me, this is an area on my bucket list to visit.  Why?  Simply that I know the wine produced there is great.  However, what we import into the US is a portion of potentially incredible wine.  Something about hanging out in this region with winemakers seems like a great idea to me.

Let’s dive into some of this grape’s characteristics.

How to Pronounce

This is a simple one to pronounce:

Important Facts

Best Areas for Wine Production

Gamay can be found in a few areas, but its home is in Beaujolais in France.  There it shines due to the climate and years of knowledge of understanding the best growing practices.  However, you can find it in these additional areas:

  • California
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland.

Focus on the Low Body, Fruit, and Acidity when Pairing

As a chef, I’m always looking at the Food pairing option.  While I love to pour a glass of Gamay in my insulated cup (hence the picture), I do like to munch on things.  Cheese is always a great option, but Gamay can be a bit difficult to pair.  You have high acid but low body and tannin.  The acidity will clean your palate and refresh it.  However, the low body and tannin (which is part of the wine’s structure) is now not there to pair with.

At this point, I focus on the aromas and flavors and consider something fatty to pair as the acidity will rinse it away.  If you know me, I’m a HUGE Fan of Bacon.  However, the smoky aromas and flavors may not work with the wine.  Now its time to use your creativity and think outside the box.

Gamay is Great with Berries and Charcuterie

This time of year, is what I refer to as Berry Bonanza as all types of berries are coming into season.  Think about freshly picked strawberries and blackberries.  I started to grow gold Raspberries this year and have harvested 10 (Hey it’s the first year so I’m thankful) that are so good.  The crops this year have been spectacular already and I know more are coming.  This is when I love to eat a few handfuls of them at night to avoid eating 10 cookies or ice cream.  But berries and this grape variety should be explored since they both have high acid and low tannins.

My other favorite food is charcuterie.  The new smoker has arrived so I can start to look at making pastrami and more sausages.  For most charcuterie, you need acidity to rinse the palate clean and Gamay is a great option.  Think of the picture of the plate above.  Why would you not want this and glass of slightly chilled Gamay?

Gamay’s Profile

Here’s what you will typically find in a glass of Gamay:

Sweetness level:  dry to medium –

Acid level: light  to medium +

Body:   low to medium –

Tannin levels from grape:  low

Typical Aromas:  banana (Beaujolais Nouveau), black cherry, black pepper, cherries,  green peppercorns, hibiscus, mushrooms, oregano, plum (red and black), Raspberry, Soil, Strawberry, Thyme, Violets

Typical Flavors:  black cherry, black pepper, cherries, wild game, leather, mushrooms, oregano, plum (red and black), Raspberry, Soil, Sour Cherry, Strawberry, Thyme,

Anchor for me

For me, Gamay is incredibly unique.  When you place it on your palate, there are very few red grapes that have this level of acidity, low tannins, and body structure.  It’s incredibly unique and once you try a few, you understand them better.

Final Thoughts

Gamay is another one of those hidden gems that you are not going to find in your grocery store aisle.  This is a variety that you will have to go to a well-stocked wine shop and even then, your selection may not be great.  However, I know it’s worth trying since it works amazingly in summer and most of them are very affordable.


Give it a whirl and very soon, I’ll sample some and let you know my thoughts.

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