Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day in Style

Have you heard of Beaujolais Nouveau day? On the third Thursday of November every single year, the region of Beaujolais in the east of France celebrates the release of Beaujolais Nouveau wine, following the year’s harvest.

On this day, Beaujolais Nouveau wine floods the market in France and the rest of the world. Over the course of the following year, 65 million bottles will be retailed and consumed! But the best part? The celebrations that take place in the region of Beaujolais to celebrate the day!

Burgundy wine - Beaujolais Nouveau

How is Beaujolais Nouveau Made?

This fresh and fruity wine is made from Gamay grapes, which are harvested by hand. Added to a huge, sealed vessel, which is filled with carbon dioxide gas, the grapes at the bottom are crushed, fermenting, to give off more carbon dioxide.

This process of ‘carbonic maceration’ helps to produce plenty of carbon dioxide which helps all the grapes to ferment. Carbonic maceration is the key to a short fermentation process and this is what makes Beaujolais Nouveau such a fast wine to produce. The result? A wine that tastes fresh and has a low level of tannins, compared to other red wines.

What is special about Beaujolais Nouveau?

Known as the ‘world’s fastest wine’, Beaujolais Nouveau is bottled just 6-8 weeks after harvest, and an incredible 35 million bottles are shipped worldwide. Produced by only 55 appellations in the Beaujolais region, this red wine must come from the area to be given a special ‘AOC’ status.

The Gamay grape is specific to the method of fermenting the Beaujolais Nouveau style of wine. Its ability to be crushed and fermented using the carbonic maceration process is quite distinctive from other grape varieties.

Furthermore, the speed of the harvest makes this red wine light, young, and fruity in body and flavour. It’s a simple red wine with no complex flavours and fruity notes that include grape, raspberry, cranberry, fig, and banana. Beaujolais Nouveau is also special because it has a relatively short lifecycle compared to other wines. It’s best enjoyed young, so that the fruity flavours remain juicy and fresh!

Grapes Languedoc Wine

What is the history of beaujolais nouveau?

Beaujolais Nouveau started life as a quick-to-make wine that was drunk by vineyard workers who were celebrating the end of the hard-work of harvesting. Dating back to at least the 1800s, Beaujolais Nouveau was used to celebrate the year’s vintage and was sent to local cafes and restaurants during November and December of each year.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Beaujolais Nouveau’s popularity grew when the fashionable citizens of Paris started to drink the wine. As word of the tradition spread, Beaujolais Nouveau was sold to Britain and Europe. In the 1960s, some British clubs would send drivers to France to bring back Beaujolais Nouveau as quickly as possible, and a race to stock the wine ensued.

In the twentieth century, it was agreed that Beaujolais Nouveau could be retailed from one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of November, to prevent businesses from rushing to ship it. Today, Beaujolais Nouveau is drunk all over the world, from America to Asia.

How do you celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau day?

Traditionally, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is celebrated in the French region of Beaujolais (30 kilometres northeast of Lyon) on the third Thursday in November to mark the first release of Beaujolais nouveau wine. Beaujolais Nouveau day began in the Beaujolais region to toast the harvest of that year’s vineyards. The day has now been extended to celebrate the region’s people, culture, and history.

Throughout the Beaujolais region, there are events with fireworks, music, and feasts. The entire region of Beaujolais comes alive on Beaujolais Nouveau day with over 120 festivals held to honour the event.

The most famous event is held in Les Sarmentelles de Beaujeu, which is the capital of the region. The festival actually lasts for five days here, and festivities include plenty of wine, local food and music. A wine tasting event features 12 Beaujolais Nouveau wines from the region, and each year a winner is crowned. A torch-lit procession is scheduled for the evening before the wine’s release and there are fireworks at midnight to celebrate the release of that year’s Beaujolais Nouveau.

What is the best way to enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau?

This fresh, young wine is the perfect choice for serving slightly chilled with a selection of good French cheeses and a charcuterie platter. Often described as a party wine, Beaujolais Nouveau is an excellent drink to toast special occasions.

Beaujolais Nouveau is popular in cooking because of its youth and fermentation. Sauces and foods prepared with the wine tend to take on a more purple than red appearance. The most common dishes prepared with Beaujolais Nouveau include Coq au Vin and poached pears.

Beaujolais Nouveau vines

3 Fun Facts about Beaujolais Nouveau

1. By French law, exactly one minute after midnight strikes on Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the wine is released to the world.

2. In America, Beaujolais Nouveau has been associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. It is commonly drunk at Thanksgiving dinner as the red wine of choice, because of the holiday’s timing with its release in France.

3. Beaujolais Nouveau is also popular in the South of Wales. It is thought to have been popularised by the former Wales rugby union captain, Clem Thomas, who had a house in Burgundy and could ship Beaujolais Nouveau to Swansea’s local restaurants and bars.

Celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau with European Waterways

For those wishing to sample this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau offering on board, guests on our Christmas Markets Cruises aboard Panache will certainly be able to do so! Otherwise,  many of our itineraries offer a fantastic selection of wine-themed excursions and serve a variety of local wines on board and for true wine connoisseurs, our Wine Appreciation Cruises are not to miss. With locations to choose from across France and Italy, guests can experience some of Europe’s best wines and visit beautiful, boutique vineyards that have been building on viticulture success for centuries.

If this sounds like the ideal vacation for you, then why not order a free copy of our brochure or perhaps have a no-obligation chat with a member of our team via our Contact Form.

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