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Basics: What Is ‘Glou Glou’? A Primer on This Easy-Drinking Style

Basics: What Is ‘Glou Glou’? A Primer on This Easy-Drinking Style

The term “glou glou” is a prime example of an onomatopoeia, one of those words that imitates the sound it’s meant to describe. It’s roughly the French equivalent of “glug glug,” aka the sound of wine rapidly pouring out of a bottle—or down a person’s throat.

It’s been in use for centuries. One of its first appearances in literature was in the French playwright Molière’s 1666 work “The Doctor Despite Himself.” But it didn’t make its way across the Atlantic and infiltrate the international wine scene until just over a decade ago, when French-speaking importers to the United States began tossing it around to describe the fresh, low-intervention wines they were (and increasingly are) bringing in from overseas.

“Glou glou” is meant to indicate wines one can throw back quickly, but that can technically be done with any wine. So, what does it actually mean? Here’s everything you need to know about this increasingly omnipresent style.

What Is Glou Glou?

“Glou glou wines as a category would just be very easy-drinking wines,” says Billy Smith, chief wine office for digital natural wine club The Waves.

These “crushable” wines—what some might call “porch pounders”—have become popular with a younger generation of wine drinkers. These consumers want wine that’s refreshing, but not overly serious. They’re not the kind of wines that might overpower a meal with complicated aromas or tasting notes, and they’re meant to be enjoyable without food.

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Any wine—whether it’s white, orange, rose or red—can be considered glou glou. The term, however, is most often applied to chillable reds and other wines with moderate levels of acidity and freshness.

In hotter climates, glou glou wines tend to boast slightly higher alcohol than their cold climate brethren, along with juicier aromas and fruitier flavors. In cooler regions, as one would expect, these easy-drinking wines tend to preserve more acid.

While France is the epicenter of glou glou—which makes sense given it’s a French term—this style can be found allover the world these days, from Italy and Austria to California, Australia and Japan. Most often, the term glou glou is associated with natural wines—however, it’s more about how easy it is to drink than the way it is made.

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From Beaujolais to the World

That being said, many glou glou wines are carbonically macerated. The winemaking technique, which is famously tied to the Beaujolais region of France—one of the capitals of glou glou—is most often used to make light- to medium-bodied red wines with soft tannins and fruity flavor profiles. Whole, intact bunches of grapes are sealed in a tank with carbon dioxide during the fermentation process, which happens inside each individual berry. “This minimizes juice interaction with skins and stems, mitigating how much tannins are being released in the wine,” says Smith. “It makes them pretty fruit-forward and easy drinking.”

This method has long been popular in Beaujolais and the Loire Valley. More recently, it’s become a favored technique of emerging winemakers in the South of France. “The style has become so popular in the Southern Rhône,” says Smith, who adds that it’s “been exploding in popularity in the last decade or so.”

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These up-and-coming wines are a huge contrast from the darker, lusher, higher-alcohol wines that have been traditionally produced up and down the iconic valley. Many Rhone-produced glou glou wines still highlight traditional varietals including Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre; however, they’ll often include more obscure grapes like Aramon and Counoise.

Just as these palate-pleasing wines have crept across France, they’ve made their way to wine regions across the globe. This trend is likely to continue as the next generation of global winemakers continue to dip their toes into the low-intervention wine scene.

“We’re living in a great time in natural wine, where you’re getting children taking over for their parents or people who have been in the industry for ten years striking out and making their own styles,” says Smith. “Glou Glou wines are popping up all over the place.”

Bottles to Try

Glou Glou Wines from France

Nic Rager 2022 Chardonnay (Vin de France)

This well-balanced Chardonnay opens with aromas of white flowers and vanilla, then followed by concentrated layers of crisp green apple, pastry and lemon curd on the palate. The acidity plays along well with the rich, elegant mouthfeel and medium body. It offers a creamy and lengthy finish. Best Buy. 92 Points  —J.T.

$ Varies

Glou Glou Wines from the U.S.

Birichino 2022 Vin Gris Rosé (California)

A soft, pale shade of pink in the glass, this mostly Central Coast-grown rosé blend of 72% Grenache, 11% Carignane, 7% Cinsault, 7% Mourvèdre and 3% Rolle offers wet stone, smashed plum and subtle herb aromas on the nose. The palate’s texture is stony and chalky, giving an edge to the plush rosewater and melon flavors. Best Buy. 93 Points  — M.K.

$ Varies

Dr. Konstantin Frank 2022 Semi-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)

Tasted blind, it’d be easy to mistake this Riesling for Muscat. Heady and perfumed, this wine indeed has musky, floral aromas of honeysuckle and jasmine, candied orange and lime granita. The off-dry palate is more tempered with a slight chalky grip but a mouthfilling texture and just enough acidity to support the sugar. Overall, it’s a balanced and highly crowd-pleasing style for sipping cold with a summery dessert like a fruit tart. Best Buy. 90 Points  — Christina Pickard

$ Varies

Glou Glou Wines from Italy

Glou Glou Wines from Australia

Thistledown 2021 Gorgeous Grenache (South Australia)

Juicy fruit bursts from the glass of this crowd-pleaser. Floral and spice notes follow through to the satiny, light to medium weight palate. There’s a touch of alcohol heat, but the succulent fruit and sandy tannins are stars of the show. An excellent intro to modern South Aussie Grenache. Best Buy. 90 Points  — C.P.


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