Most French wines can be drunk any time (although breakfast wine is frowned upon) but there is one that has its own special day.
The third Thursday in November is a special day in the wine calendar – the day that the year’s Beaujolais nouveau wines become available.
Beaujolais nouveau is a primeur, a ‘young’ wine that is produced quickly and hits the shelves just a couple of months after the grapes are picked.
There are many types of primeur, but only Beaujolas nouveau gets its own special day – and this is due to nothing more elevated than a marketing campaign from the 1980s set up to popularise and promote this type of wine.
Beaujolais nouveau can be shipped earlier, but only goes on sale around the world on the third Thursday of November, and most years there are festivals to promote it with local events and ‘wine races’.
Hugely popular in the 1908s, especially in the UK, Beaujolais nouveau suffered a backlash from wine purists who labelled it an imbuvable (undrinkable) wine that tasted of bananas.
While it’s true that a lot of distinctly dodgy bottles were on sale during its heyday, especially abroad, these days many small producers in the Beaujolais region are working hard to ensure that their better-quality products get the recognition they deserve.
Within the Beaujolais area of eastern France, around a third of the grapes go to producing Beaujolais nouveau, while the rest produce wines with a longer and more traditional production time. However many prefer to be known by the name of the village or commune where they are produced, rather than Beaujolais.