I love the holidays. They are a time to connect with family and friends over good food and wine. While Thanksgiving is just around the corner, one week prior is yet another special occasion to get primed and ready for, with the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau.
There are holidays for everything, so why not wine? I think wine should be celebrated, and I try to do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays—well, any day, really, but the third Thursday of every November is a special day for one particular grape, gamay. It is used to make Beaujolais wine, and for Beaujolais Nouveau the grape goes through a very fast fermentation process that prevents big, tannic flavors from forming, so it retains a freshly picked, fruity taste. The expedited technique produces a young wine that is meant to be consumed as soon as it lands on your wine shop’s shelf, and it should be served at a fairly cool temperature.
With every holiday come some naysayers, and this one is no exception. Connoisseurs turn up their noses at the adolescent wine that hasn’t yet turned into a real drink with strong character, but Beaujolais Nouveau isn’t intended to be a big player in the wine arena. It’s like the new toddler in the family who is an entertaining addition to dinner, but who isn’t going to recite Proust over your meal. This wine is young, fun and a good excuse to get a group together for some imbibing.
There are, however, some notable Beaujolais that take their time to ferment and are released well after all the turkeys have been eaten. These grapes actually come from a nearby but separate area in the south of Burgundy and have more depth and complexity than their Nouveau cousin. There are 10 crus, or great growths, outside Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages, where you’ll find some flavorful and well-balanced wines. Morgon and Fleurie are two good names for Beaujolais, and you’ll usually find them at your local wine store at a reasonable price. Other names to look for include Brouilly, the largest cru in Beaujolais, and Moulin-à-Vent, a wine that will further unfold over several years of cellar time.
Regardless of your wine opinion, Parisians do love to be convivial, so you will find many different types of celebrations throughout the city on Thursday.
Spring will be pitting Nouveau against older-school Beaujolais for a head-to-head comparison and will have assorted cured pork products for snacking from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Ô Chateau is cutting out the Nouveau and going straight for the more solid, big-brother Beaujolais.
If you really want to get into the spirit and cover some ground, join Miss Vicky Wine for a Beaujolais bar crawl through Montorgueil, Martyrs and Montmartre. There’s even a chance to win prizes by checking in on foursquare and posting pictures.
You’ll also find several meetup social groups hosting events, like Internationals in Paris, which is having more of a global mixer party, with Beaujolais on hand at discounted prices. Paris Urban Adventures is teaming up with the St.-Germain wine shop Dernière Goutte for a tasting and an overview of Beaujolais Nouveau by wine shop owner Juan Sanchez.
If that all sounds a bit too energetic for you, many restaurants that serve wine and cuisine from the Beaujolais area are having special menus, like La Bonne Franquette, La Bastide Odéon and Le Galvacher.
And if you don’t have the good fortune to be in France on Thursday, there are many Beaujolais celebrations worldwide. Several Alliance Française chapters are hosting parties in locations including Michigan, Wisconsin, even as far away as Singapore. The Defoor Centre, in Atlanta, is taking the festivities a step further, with a whole French gastronomic celebration, throwing in champagne, music and auctions. And you can get your macaron and Beaujolais fix in Naples, Florida, too.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a bit like Thanksgiving. It doesn’t really matter if the turkey is dry or the wine isn’t your favorite, because it’s more about getting family and friends together to celebrate life over food and wine.
52, rue de l’Arbre Sec, in the 1st Arrondissement, 4 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in the 1st, 4 p.m.–midnight.
Miss Vicky Wine
Bar crawl, 7 p.m.–midnight.
Internationals in Paris Meetup Group
Party at La Baraque, 102, rue de Charonne, in the 11th, 7:30 p.m.
Paris Urban Adventures
Tasting at La Dernière Goutte, 6, rue de Bourbon le Château, in the 6th, various times.
La Bonne Franquette
Angle 2, rue des Saules, and 18, rue St.-Rustique, in the 18th.
La Bastide Odéon
7, rue Corneille, in the 6th.
64, avenue des Ternes, in the 17th.
Facebook page and iPhone app for Beaujolais Nouveau
Editor’s note: Hot off the press, our new iPhone app is LIVE and available for purchase in the iTunes store. This app package gives you three of our most popular walking trips, Walk and Shop the Marais, the Pastry and Chocolate trip and St.-Germain to the Louvre. Warning: app may result in shopping ecstasy and chocolate hangovers.