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New Chinese ambassador for Beaujolais wine

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-03 07:15

New Chinese ambassador for Beaujolais wine

China's Yan Zhuyin celebrates the uncorking of Beaujolais Nouveau with French winemakers in Les Sarmentelles.[Photo provided to China Daily]

As wine drinkers around the world savor the latest vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau, one public face of the wine has much in common with the celebrated French red - youth - and one distinct dissimilarity: She's Chinese.

The 22-year-old Yan Zhuyin is candid about the advantage that she thinks won her the crown of Miss Beaujolais China in the fall. The Shenzhen native's youth is a perfect fit for the promotion of one of the world's youngest wines.

A light and fruity red wine made from handpicked Gamay grapes from the Beaujolais region, Beaujolais Nouveau has established its reputation as the "world's fastest wine". Fermented just six to eight weeks before it's sold, the wine is intended for immediate consumption, or more precisely, consumption within a year of harvest.

While the other Beaujolais wine is casked for a year before it's released and develops character with aging, the nouveau's quick production means there is very little tannin, so fruit flavors are right up front and the wine will not mature over time.

The taste of the new Beaujolais has thus been compared to a young ballerina's first attempt to stand on her toes. Its spirit has been championed by French poet Robert Sabatier, who wrote "be young as a Beaujolais and age as a Bourgundy".

Opinions about the quality of the fast wine have been divided in France and beyond. Too simple? Immature? The Wine Bible author Karen McNeil said, "Drinking it gives you the same kind of silly pleasure as eating cookie dough." But another eminent wine critic, Robert Parker Jr, wrote that such criticism was "ludicrous" and declared the better vintages as "delicious, zesty, exuberant, fresh and vibrantly fruity."

The wine itself seems to have shrugged off controversies. The uncorking of the first bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, scheduled on the third Thursday every November in France, is widely celebrated as the world's most famous wine party.

The celebration was joined by its first non-French ambassador for the first time in 2016.

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