French Tradition: Beaujolais Nouveau

Every year on the third Thursday of the month France celebrates the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. When the clock strikes midnight, the bottles are opened and the whole of France stops to join what can only be described as a wine party!

Beaujolais Nouveau originates from the Beaujolais region of France near Lyon. It comes from the Gamay grape, which gives it its fruity aroma and bright red colour. As a vin primeur – a wine sold in the same year that it was harvested – Beaujolais Nouveau is unique in the sense that it is very young. It does not have to age for a long time in the cellar like other wines and it is released for sale not long after fermentation (traditionally it could have even still been in the final stages of fermentation as it was being transported to the bars). The official recognition of this wine came after the war in 1951 where regulations on the ageing of wine were revoked and a date was set for the official release of the Beaujolais Nouveau.

The distribution of a wine after only one year was such a novelty that trying the first sip as quickly as possible became an event in itself. If you are in Lyon in November you can be sure that this will be a great event! There are over 100 Beaujolais Nouveau festivals held in the Beaujolais region. The most famous festival, Les Sarmentelles lasts for days and the winner of the annual tasting wins their weight in wine! Originally exclusive to wine merchants and bistros of the region, this event spread across the whole of France and quickly further across the entire world, where its biggest consumers are now Japan and the United States. As it has spread, so have the ways in which to get to the Beaujolais the fastest; means of transport in the worldwide race have allegedly included elephants, Concorde and a hot-air balloon!

Make sure to join in the festivities on this jolly Thursday in November when ‘Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé‘.