Why Gamay Might Just be The Perfect Fall Red

A cluster of ripe gamay grapes hanging on a vine with leaves turning orange and red

Gamay is a sommelier's secret weapon for easy wine pairing. 

by Erin Henderson

I almost always recommend a Gamay for wine pairings. Perhaps that sounds lazy or uninspired to you, but to me it's quite a marvel. Not a lot of wines can go with the breadth of foods Gamay can easily match. 

Gamay is a red grape that’s both fruity and light, with a good amount of juicy acidity, all the elements that make for a fantastic food pairing – and probably why it’s one of my go-to’s for dinner.

The famous Moulin et Vent wind mill in Beaujolais
The famous Moulin-à-Vent windmill in Beaujolais Cru of the same name

Gamay’s origin story begins in Beaujolais, the southern-most region of Burgundy. Unlike the rest of Burgundy, where Pinot Noir is the red grape, Gamay is the go-to grape of Beauj.

However, Gamay does really well in other cool-climate areas of the world – especially Ontario.


Gamay is a red wine that’s typically moderate in alcohol, low in tannin, high in acidity, low-to-medium in body. Red fruit flavours like cherry, strawberry and cranberry mix with spices like black pepper and bay leaf.

Beaujolais Nouveau?

Even though Gamay has been around for centuries, it really rose to It Girl fame in the 1980’s when Beaujolais Nouveau – a specific style which only ages the wine about six weeks for a simple, somewhat one-dimensional character – became all the rage.

But what goes up must come down, and as the decade ended, wine drinkers abandoned Beauj Nouveau faster than they could fling off their shoulder pads.

Beaujolais in general took a hit, as everyone assumed all Beaujolais is only Nouveau, when in fact there are other styles and regions. Beaujolais Village, which offers more structure, but still in a juicy “bistro” style, and the sophisticated Cru level (a specific, demarcated sub-region of the very best vineyards), which is complex and age worthy. Fantastic value is to be found here, though the world is catching on, so Beaujolais Cru is creeping up in price.

Food Pairings:

As mentioned, a huge range of foods can easily pair with Gamay.

Of course, as we always recommend you want to consider the sauce, preparation, and seasoning of the food, but usually, Gamay gets the job done. 

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