Oui, wine please | Food & Drink Features | Creative Loafing Charlotte
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Oui, wine please 

Beaujolais Nouveau gives all of us a reason to drink

Not everyone is a wine snob. Some of us just like to drink a glass of wine without the gnosis of who the vintners were, how it was aged and what kinds of scents we should smell and taste as we shake and sip.

That's because there's sometimes a certain pretentiousness that comes with vino. And the faster you drink — downing that glass before anyone can say "Cheers! or "Sonte!" — the less socially awkward you'll feel when you can't dissect the wine. And while drinking without knowing the facts can be ok (This is coming from a girl who once bought an opened, unlabeled two-liter plastic jug of wine on the side of the road somewhere in the middle of Czech Republic. If you say the word "wine," I'll drink it even if it ends up tasting like grape juice without the alcohol and stinking up the rental car), it sure as hell doesn't hurt to become informed. It's kind of even a little fun sometimes.

That being said, if you're unfamiliar with the French's Beaujolais Nouveau tradition, there's no need to fret. It's actually a pretty cool concept and the wines are for everyone. The premise is simple: In short, it consists of drinking red wine from France's Beaujolais region. This wine is made from the Gamay grape and produced via a winemaking technique called "carbonic maceration." Processed without extraction of the bitterness from grape skins, this fermentation produces wines with fresh, fruity aromas. It's meant to be consumed quickly (usually by the Spring after release) while it's young.

Also, the wine itself is usually reasonably priced. So while wine connoisseurs can enjoy it, it's us common folk that should take pride in the consumption. Oh, and the best part is that you don't have to be French to partake — but it's probably more fun if some natives are mixed in the drinking foray.

That's where Alliance Francaise of Charlotte's 22nd annual Beaujolais Festival comes in. The organization, which hosts French-related food and drink events throughout the year, does it big for Beaujolais. Charlotte is one of 16 cities in the United States that's recognized as having an official Beaujolais Celebration by the Union Interprofessionelle des Vins du Beaujolais.

This year, the event is going down at Queen's University and features a tasting of six wines. "We decided to serve the Domaine Pral Wines, exclusively, because the wines are delicious, very well-made, premium quality and they reflect everything that the Beaujolais has to offer," says Jeanne Morel, Beaujolais Festival Chairman of Alliance Francaise.

"The Pral estate spreads over 50 acres in the heart of the Pierres Dorees (golden rocks) region, 10 miles from Villefranche, capital of the Beaujolais. The Domaine Marion Pral vineyards are planted on granite soils with a southeast exposition in the Beaujolais region. It is run by Marion Pral and husband Pascal Chatelus, whose family has been on the land for more than three generations. Marion and Pascal are doing amazing work, growing vines with the sustainable process, and the winemaking is also following the principles of sustainability."

In addition to the wine, there will also be food, live music (The Tenya Colemon Trio, 7th Son Ensemble of Gay Men's Chorus of Charlotte and John Alexander Jazz Trio), and a silent auction and raffle.

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