The third Thursday in November is a day the Hubs and I look forward to all year long. It’s the release date of a very special French red wine that we’ve come to know and love as the perfect Thanksgiving beverage. This special vino is so popular that it often sells out before Thanksgiving Day, merely a week later.
Beaujolais Nouveau (“BN”) is made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France. It’s an extremely young, light red wine, fermented for only a few short weeks before it’s bottled and released on “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” which begins at 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday of November. It’s the “first fruits of the harvest” and was traditionally the peasant wine, drunk by the harvesters and wine makers while they waited for the “good stuff.” It was the celebration beverage of a new year and a new vintage.
A French winemaker, Georges DuBoeuf, also happened to have a good head for making extra money. He came up with the idea to market Nouveau to the greater public. The idea of a “race to Paris” with the first bottles of BN launched a Parisian, French, and finally worldwide tradition of uncorking Nouveau in November.
In France, this is a day of great celebration and rejoicing. And in the United States (particularly in hip metropolitan areas) the Nouveau fever has caught fire of it’s own, particularly with young crowds. In the Washington D.C. area, where we used to live, you can find a host of Beaujolais release parties that begin at 12:01 a.m. tonight, with the very first uncorkings. In Charlotte NC, where we currently reside, the city is hosting a huge Beaujolais party as well.
Some staunch wine critics (not enthusiasts – the snobbiest of critics) will write scathing reviews of this light, fruity wine. They will call it a sham and an embarrassment to the wine industry.
Except for those very few too haughty to admit it’s a brilliant idea (and also very fun!) you’ll find rave reviews online and in wine stores for Nouveau. This wine has very few tannins, and thus makes a great introduction to wine even for those who think they dislike wine.
My Hubs and I have found BN to be the perfect Thanksgiving wine. It’s best served slightly chilled, and it pairs beautifully with turkey.
Say WHAT?!? Those of you who know wine may react negatively to the idea of serving a RED wine with the traditional white meat Thanksgiving dinner. But I think you’ll find, as my husband and I have, that it truly pairs so nicely with white meat and the Thanksgiving spread.
My favorite Nouveau story is from a few years ago, when my husband and I showed up at a Fall dinner party with Beaujolais Nouveau to share. All but one woman in the dinner party accepted a glass of BN when my husband went around pouring. She asked instead for a glass of white, since we were having turkey for dinner. Peter gladly poured her the glass of white. Immediately, folks around the large table started praising the wine, saying it was the perfect accouterments to the meal. I watched our female friend with her glass of white begin to look curiously at the bottle of Georges Debeouf across the table. She actually got up, put her glass down in the kitchen and instead drank Beaujolais for the rest of the evening. It made me happy to note that even our greatest wine critic at the table agreed that it was a perfect pairing.
This year Beaujolais Nouveau will release on November 20th. At my local grocery store, there will be Nouveau wine tastings all day long. There will most likely be an official rep from Georges Debeouf Wines in the store to answer any questions patrons may have.
I’ll be doing my grocery shopping tomorrow with bells on, for a chance to stock up on our Thanksgiving and Christmas supply. We love to give these young bottles as gifts during the holiday season.
Best part of all: Beaujolais is an inexpensive wine. In my area they run under $10 per bottle.
Happy Beaujolais Day, y’all!
…and as I do every year, linking up for a cheat version of Five Favorites with Jenna…because Beaujolias is my favorite times five. ;0)