If you’ve been in France during the third week of November, chances are you’ve heard the expression “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! “ (“The New Beaujolais has arrived!”). They day the new vintage of Beaujolais comes on to the market (always the third Thursday of November) is cause for much celebration throughout France.
The tradition of celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local practice in the small bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Each late fall, wine growers would come into these eating (and drinking) establishments and sell barrels at very reasonable prices to the owners, who would then serve it to the locals in large pitchers. Beaujolais Nouveau is hardly a “fine wine.”
It has always been produced quickly to drink as a table wine while the better Beaujolais vintages ferment into truly great wine. During Beaujolais Nouveau production, the “must” (thick grape juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems) is pressed early after only three days.
Therefore, there are not as many tannins (which one normally finds in abundance in red wine) in Beaujolais Nouveau, making it a very drinkable, slightly fruity wine. It is meant to be served slightly chilled, making it the perfect “party drink” instead of a wine to be sipped and savored.
Thanks in large part to the marketing genius of one of the largest Beaujolais producers in France, Georges Duboeuf. Beaujolais Nouveau is now celebrated (and heavily consumed) throughout both smaller villages and large cosmopolitan French cities.
It has also become quite popular in the U.S. (if there’s a French restaurant in your city, chances are they’ll be hosting an event for Beaujolais Nouveau). Wherever you celebrate this “national” French holiday, take a moment to think about the millions of people in cafés, restaurants and bistros in France and the U.S. gulping Beaujolais Nouveau and loudly proclaiming