Everything You Should Know About Gamay

Gamay is a black grape variety that produces a light and refreshing wine that is known more for its floral aromas. Incidentally, the grape variety grows in France’s Beaujolais region, which is right next to Burgundy- where a similar black grape variety called Pinot Noir thrives.


Gamay produces wines with high acidity, low to medium tannins and red fruit flavours such as raspberry and red plums. However, it is the distinct floral notes of peony, iris and violets that set the wine apart.

Wines made from Gamay are usually produced in inert vessels and rarely display aromas from oak. The most important region is Beaujolais in France, a moderate climate region directly to the south of Burgundy.



The Beaujolais appellation of France is the home of Gamay. While winemakers grow some amount of other varieties of wine grapes too, the region is largely focussed on Gamay. The appellation has a warm growing season, which helps in giving the nouveau-style wines their fruity flavours.

Winemakers in Beaujolais use a technique called the carbonic maceration method, that maximises the extraction of colour while minimising the extraction of tannins. In this process, winemakers ferment whole bunches of grapes in a sealed container after flushing it with carbon dioxide. This causes the displacement of oxygen and creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment.

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The process of fermentation creates aromatic flavour compounds called phenols within the whole grapes. These flavour compounds also give the wine a distinct banana or boiled fruit flavour.

The technique produces wines that are fruit-forward and low on tannins as opposed to the ones made from crushed grapes.

Beaujolais and quality levels

A typical Beaujolais is a light-bodied wine with low to medium tannins and fresh red fruit flavours. Dominant flavours are red fruits like raspberry, floral notes of violet, and a distinct aroma of banana due to carbonic maceration.

For consumers who want to purchase Beaujolais, the following standards help them select what kind of wine are they looking for:

Beaujolais Cru – High Quality

This expression of Gamay is made using grapes from the following ten villages within the Beaujolais appellation- Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Regnie and Saint-Amour. They produce the best quality expressions of wine with a superior concentration of flavours and a good structure, with a medium to long finish.

Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau – Basic Quality

These wines can be produced from vines planted anywhere within the Beaujolais region but are mainly found in the flat vineyards towards the south of the appellation. These wines can be red or rosé expressions of Gamay grapes. They have a bright and youthful hue to them, alongside aromas of candied cherries, red plums, bananas and bubblegum. Since these wines undergo carbonic maceration and have low levels of tannins, they are not meant for ageing and should be consumed young and fresh.

This area produces the simplest wines of the region. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk during its vintage year and doesn’t age well.

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Serving temperature – 13 to 18 degrees Celsius

Glass type – Standard red wine glass

Food Pairing

There is literally nothing that you cannot pair with a Gamay. The wine is a food lover’s delight as it is simple, affordable and drinks well with a variety of cuisines.

Due to its high acidity and low tannins, the wine works well with lean white meats and seafood. Try it with a roast chicken, spicy tuna roll, grilled salmon, fried calamari, or shrimp cocktail. For vegetarians, roasted eggplant, herb sauteed potatoes, mushrooms and butternut squash are all good choices.

You can load your dishes with an array of herbs and spices like dill, parsley, fennel, sage, mint, lavender, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and green cardamom without a worry in the world if you are pouring a glass of Gamay next to it.

From soft to hard and creamy to pungent, the wine also goes well with an array of cheeses like cottage cheese, brie, cream cheese, Swiss cheese, Monterey Jack etc.


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