Gamay - Red Wine Grape

Gamay, as in Beaujolais...

Gamay probably originated in Dalmatia in the former Yugoslavia, and was introduced in the Third Century to the Lyon region of eastern France. Because it was often a prolific grape producing poor quality wine its cultivation was forbidden in the Burgundy region of southwestern France in 1395. Gamay is widely grown in Beaujolais, just south of Burgundy, and to a lesser extent in the Loire Valley. It is also grown in Italy, in particular in Tuscany, and in Austria, Romania, and Switzerland, as well as in Argentina and Chile.

Classic Image of Gamay (Petit Gamay) Grapes Petit gamay image first published in Traité général de viticulture : Ampélographie / publiée sous la direction de P. Viala ; secrétaire général V. Vermorel, avec la collaboration de A. Bacon.. [et al] Paris: Masson et Cie, 1901-1910.
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Illustration courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, Wine Literature of the World website.

Gamay produces a high acid, low tannin, light colored, fruity red wine. Many people who don’t like red wines enjoy Gamay-based wines such as Beaujolais, produced in the French wine region of the same name. Critics say that it tastes like melted black cherry Jell-O. Unlike most other wines, Gamays such as Beaujolais are made from whole grapes. Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the first available wines following the harvest, traditionally hitting the market on the third Thursday of November. (Of course, some Southern Hemisphere wines are available months previously, because their seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere.) Gamay is a major component of Dôle, Switzerland’s most famous red wine.

Enjoy Gamay wines with Appetizers, Cheese such as Emmenthaler, Greek Feta, Muenster, Pasta with Vegetables, Paté, Curried Fish or Chicken, and spicy Mexican food.

See I Love French Wine and Food - Beaujolais Nouveau for a review of a red Beaujolais Nouveau Gamay wine.

See I Love French Wine and Food - A Red Beaujolais for a review of a red Beaujolais Chiroubles Gamay wine.


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