Ever wonder why Beaujolais is so popular on the 3rd Thursday of November? It all began as a French tradition in the local bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Now it’s a celebration that extends around the world and hopefully to one of your neighborhood wine bars or restaurants. Each fall the new Beaujolais arrives with great fanfare. Pitchers are filled from the vintners barrels and the masses party. It’s a first press wine using Gamay grapes that keep people satiated until the better Beaujolais vintages are released.
The official release date of Beaujolais was set for November 15th in 1951 and then in 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday of November lengthening the celebration by tying it to a weekend. No matter where the new Beaujolais is distributed, importers have to agree not to sell it before midnight on the third Thursday of November.
All across France, Beaujolais Nouveau begins its annual journey to all parts of the world. Banners proclaim: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! “The New Beaujolais has arrived!” In the last 45 years, Beaujolais Nouveau sales have grown from around a million bottles to more than 70 million. What’s made this wine so popular especially in the U.S. where consumption of red wine is less than 30%? It’s simply an easy-to-drink fruity wine. Grapes are pressed early only three days after harvest meaning that the tannins normally found in red wines don’t exist. This combined with the fact that it tastes best when chilled make it a fun wine to be gulped rather than sipped, enjoyed in convivial spirits rather than critiqued!
photo courtesy of Steve Mirsky