Top 5: Beaujolais nouveaus

The third Thursday in November is a big day in the wine world. It's the day that the year's first shipment of Beaujolais nouveau wine goes on sale. [Scratch that: It's the first day that the wine is allowed to go on sale. The French are very fussy about these things you know.] This year, that day was last Thursday, Nov. 19, and this year's crop of Gamay -- the grape used to make Beajolais nouveau -- is supposedly better than the last several years.

The nouveau is unique because it is barely aged and special because it is only available for a brief time each year -- typically just until New Year's, though this year's "season" will likely be shorter. (Solo Vino, for example, already sold out two of its four nouveaus and predicts it will be completely out by the end of the week.) It's also pretty uniformly cheap -- under $15 for all those mentioned here. Surdyk's and Solo Vino already ran out of one of this year's most prized nouveaus -- Joseph Drouhin (Surdyk's ran out in just one day). Fortunately, at least a couple other shops still have it, and some other good ones too.

Here's top nouveau picks from five local wine shops:

France 44's David Anderson says Beaujolais nouveau pairs well with many foods, including turkey.
1. France 44 still has some of the coveted Joseph Drouhin nouveau. David Anderson, the store's vice president, says "It's light and it's charming, a fruit-forward style of wine. The lightness and the charm is what we're looking for ... The wine is really what you call a quaffer. It's not to fuss over, it's to enjoy." Anderson says he's never had a beaujolais from Drouhin that he didn't like. "They have been consistently high quality over the years and I would say that even in years that were not as good as this year or 2005 they've always been consistently good," he says.

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