We all know how loyal the French are to their holidays… and though this one isn’t an “official” day of leisure in France, it is certainly well celebrated. Welcome to Beaujolais Nouveau Day!
Yes, the French have developed a holiday devoted exclusively to one of their favorite red wines. Beaujolais Nouveau is a fresh and fruity red wine from the Beaujolais province of France (just north of Lyon), and was originated as a way for locals to celebrate the end of the harvest season. 100 years or so later, the French still look forward to the nouveau (new) Beaujolais wines that are released each year… on the third Thursday of November at 12:01am, when the gleeful toasts begin. “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” (The new Beaujolais has arrived!
What’s so special about a Beaujolais Nouveau? It’s made entirely of handpicked Gamay grapes, it has a fruit-forward, cheerful flavor, and it’s inexpensive… the perfect wine for a party. Although most things French are better with age (wine, cheese and women come to mind), a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be opened young. In fact, most vintages should be enjoyed before May.
How to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day
Beaujolais Nouveau is a young, stylish, casual, flirty wine, so celebrating its arrival should be the same way… fuss-free and spontaneous.
Whether you’re inviting a large group of people, a couple of friends, or just your “Cherie,” set the atmosphere with a few candles, your favorite French tunes (add Jane Birkin and Carla Bruni to your playlist), and a few simple hors d’oeuvres. No need for fancy stemware, your everyday wine glasses will work just fine. A Beaujolais Nouveau is best enjoyed slightly cool, at 55 degrees (F), which brings its fruit forward, and it pairs with just about anything… it’s as delicious with haute cuisine as it is with a warm baguette and cheese.
Or, for impromptu rendez-vous on the town, grab your “Cherie” and jump into the fun at the local French bistro.