Gamay. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out! This charming French grape variety produces endlessly drinkable red wines that are fragrant, fruity and moreish. It’s also a great food-matching wine, but what should you drink Gamay with? 

The hidden secret of the Loire 

Gamay, pronounced Gam-may, is a medium bodied red grape variety that traditionally loves a cool climate. While its ancestry home is in the south of Burgundy, where it ripens into juicy styles of Beaujolais red wine, the examples in the Loire Valley in the north of France can be something really special. Here, the Gamay grows on old vines and on loose sandy soils, forcing the vines deep into the subsoil below, both intensifying the ripeness in the grapes and naturally bringing down the yield in favour of quality over quantity. Matched with the cooler winds and the moderating influence of the Loire River, the wines are also perfumed and fresh. 

Our Bright & Juicy Gamay, newly launched in our Heritage Collection and available from Ocado, is a lively example bursting with red fruits like strawberries and cherries. It has a ripe, smooth finish and can even be served lightly chilled to bring out its spicy character. You’re very likely to love Gamays like this if you’re a fan of New World Pinot Noir, Loire-style Cabernet Franc, or Sicilian Frappato wines.  

What food you should pair with Gamay 

You can have a lot of fun pairing a red wine that has both rich fruit and bright acidity. The careful balance achieved in its intensity and freshness makes it very versatile. As the Gamay comes in a 250ml serve, splitting perfectly into two small glasses of wine, here’s some suggestions for those weeknight dinners. 

Pan-fried duck breast 

Duck and Gamay are a delightful match, and a pan-fried duck breast can make for a special – but quick – midweek dinner. Pat the duck breast dry and score the skin and fat, season with salt, and place it skin-side down in the pan for a few minutes until golden brown and crispy before flipping it over and polishing it off. Generally do the 2/3 rule, whereby most of the cooking is done before you flip it over to finish it. If you want to try another take on pan-fried duck, like adding a twist for date night, why not create a stick soy glaze with soy sauce, lime, honey, ginger, garlic and chilli? It’ll add a sweet kick that’s just delicious. Pair with a side salad, or creamed cabbage. 

Canned Wine Co. Gamay and a plate of roast duck, salad, and potatoes

Moussaka 

When you’ve got a softness to the texture of your wine it opens up really enjoyable flavour contrasts with home-cooked comforts like Shepherd’s pie, pizza or Moussaka. It’s the cheesy-potato-sweet-rich-ragu mix that loves a smooth red wine. Moussaka is my particular favourite with a wine like Gamay, as the earthy and meaty texture of aubergine fits Gamay’s light tannins and bright acidity.  

Fusion pairings 

While Gamay is a French variety, it has a natural ability to pair with its neighbours in the Mediterranean particularly well. Italian food like pizza, as I’ve mentioned, is a nice east weeknight supper to crack open a Gamay alongside. However, Gamay really comes into its own alongside its Iberian friends with an array of tapas dishes. It has the freshness to offset the spicy, sauciness of a patatas bravas, while complementing the crispy, salty and fruity mix you get with tomato bread and serrano ham. If you go all out, Gamay will sing as much with your crayfish croquettes as it will with an earthy lentil stew or spicy chorizo sausage. If we stick to the Mediterranean, going east towards Greece, Turkey and Lebanon and you’ll find Gamay matches well with grilled meats, falafel and halloumi too. The magic of Gamay is in its versatility. 

Move over Pinot Noir 

Talking about versatility, the queen of the grape varieties for pairing with almost any food is a quality Pinot Noir. Traditionally difficult pairings, such as strong umami dishes – think shitake mushrooms stir-fried in soy sauce or creamy miso pasta – are usually matched off with gamey Pinot Noirs. However, often those Pinot Noirs need a little maturity to start showing gamey and savoury flavours that complement umami notes in food, and when Pinot Noir is young it can be a little too bright and acidic to work with the deep savoury notes. Mature Pinot Noir is expensive, so for me Gamay from the Loire is a top alternative when it comes to mushroom dishes or anything using soy/miso. The acidity is softened by riper fruit and low tannins that pair well with this kind of food.  

Don't forget the cheese!

While you might have read in my Verdejo food pairing round-up that I much prefer white wine with cheese, there are some moments when a juicy red like Gamay is a cut above. I love a fresh red wine like this when pairing with fattier cheese like Brie or Camembert, and it's particularly good when you bake the Camembert and you pair Gamy with the hot, gooey and delicious result.

Whatever you do make sure you have plenty of fun experimenting. If you’ve not had a Gamay before, or you’ve only tried Beaujolais, then why not give a Loire-style Gamay a go? Lionel Gosseaume’s superb example can now be tasted in can from our Heritage Range, which you can buy online here, or via Ocado. You’ll see why this is such a hidden gem! 

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