For many, November 15th came and went as a Tuesday might have normally would have. The daily grind, the 9 to 5, the coming home to chores or episodes of The New Girl. For others, there was a mandatory stop at the wine store. Some left with a bottle or two, some left with a case. It was Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Marketed now as a “Thanksgiving Day wine”, Beaujolais nouveau is a fantastic option to pair with heavier winter meals.

Made from grapes from the Beaujolais region of France, Beaujolais nouveau is only fermented for a few weeks before it is bottled and shipped around the world. Like all European wines, it’s named after the region it’s produced, not the grape it’s made of. Unlike American wines, there are strict laws regulating its harvest – the gamay grapes must be hand harvested and the wine is fermented with whole berries to emphasize the fruit rather than extract the tannin in the grape skins. This is why you get hints of banana, fig and pear when you drink it. It’s an end of harvest wine, ready to drink about 2 months after it is harvested, and until after World War Two, was only available for local consumption. Now 49 million liters are made and exported across the globe.

The Beaujolais nouveau is the first wine made from any vintage, so it’s a big indicator of just how the wines harvested from grapes in any year will taste. Some years, like 2000, have been really extraordinary, so despite being a wine that should be drank fairly quickly, the Beaujolais nouveau from that year could have been enjoyed all year long. If the 2011 Beaujolais nouveau is any indicator, it’s going to be a great vintage!

Chances are you’ve probably seen the Georges Duboeuf at your local wine store. He made the wine famous by marketing heavily with silk ties and designer labels. It was also Deboeuf that was the first to market the wine for Thanksgiving. He even started a race to see who could run the first bottle to Paris, which seems to be a pretty great marketing strategy. But, most importantly, how is the wine? Vintages vary, as with all wine, but this year was definitely a strong showing from Georges Duboeuf. For about eight to nine dollars, the Duboeuf is a reasonably priced bottle and is fruity, like all Beaujolais nouveau ought to be.

But for something really special, try the Domaine de la Madone. Just like all Beaujolais nouveau styles, it’s fruity with the fig and pear undertones.But… this one is just richer. It has a warmth that most of us associate with red wine. It’s not tannin; it’s not dry or bitter and leaves you refreshed. Still, it coats the glass just a little bit more than the Georges Deboeuf. Its flavor sticks around just a little more. It’s a bit of a darker purple-red. And it’s not significantly more expensive, just two dollars more. No matter what you get, this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau is a great way to celebrate the winter season.