We all know what the fourth Thursday of November means (turkey of course…just turkey), but how about the third Thursday of November? Admittedly, it’s not quite as celebrated here in the states as it is in France, but it is starting to catch on. This Thursday, November 20th at 12:01 am, is the official release of the Beaujolais Nouveau, a very young red wine with a short fermentation process from the Beaujolais region in eastern France. The wine is bottled only about six to eight weeks after being harvested, making it light and fruity in flavor, and generally disliked by the French. At least for the sophisticated pallet, the accelerated production process doesn’t make for a high-quality wine, but the tradition has nonetheless become a reason to celebrate!
The tradition dates back to the 19th century, where it began in Beaujolais as a local celebration, marking the end of the grape harvest. Over time, the festivities eventually spread to Paris and all across France- and with some brilliant marketing, across the Atlantic; the United States is now one of its largest importers, with Germany and Japan taking the lead.
Not exactly random. See below!
Why the third Thursday of November? In the 1950s, French law dictated that wine could not be sold until December 15th of the year of its harvest. Because the point of the beaujolais is to drink it shortly after harvest, this law was somewhat problematic, and thus lead to an official date change to November 15th in 1967. This date was again changed in the 80s to the third Thursday of November to tie the event to a weekend. Because everything is better on a weekend and why start a weekend on a Friday when you can start it on a Thursday? Exactly.
Cheers to the Thursday jump start on the weekend!
Interesting tidbit: The Beaujolais and Champagne regions still legally require that their grapes be harvested by hand. It doesn’t get any more pure and authentic than that!
The Beaujolais Nouveau will be in stores just in time for Thanksgiving! Its light, fruity quality has been said to be the perfect compliment to the flavors of the fall dinner, so grab a bottle to share with your friends and family and be thankful!