The third Thursday in November is Beaujolais Nouveau day. The first day, the wine from this years harvest can be drunk. Beaujolais Nouveau comes from Burgundy, solely from the Gamay grape. It’s a light, fruity, easy drinking red wine associated more with fun than serious wine appreciation. It’s fair to say quality varies from year to year.
Critics will say, Beaujolais Nouveau day, much like Halloween is a marketers creation. They’re largely right, without the huge marketing it once commanded, few people outside of Burgundy would have heard of it. In the 1980’s particularly, restaurants and bars were decorated with French flags to celebrate the event. Competitions to see who could deliver the wine first from the vineyard added excitement. The wine makers loved it, bringing in cash quickly. Finally it was a good excuse to let your hair down and have some fun!
Since the 1990’s sales in the UK have been falling and the event once extensively covered by TV and newspapers, now hardly gets a mention. In France, it remains a big event, still strongly promoted and accounting for something like 20 million bottles.
Are we missing out?
Yes and No, some of the events I attended were fun, especially the one, where the Beaujolais Nouveau never arrived! Instead we enjoyed an alternative which probably tasted better. Sadly some of the wine really disappointed, possibly the result of over production and slipping standards to meet demand.
If you do decide to celebrate the day, Cheers!