At midnight on Thursday November 18 (AKA Beaujolais Nouveau Day) glasses across the world will be raised to mark this year’s release. Not au fait with the annual wine moment? Dan Farrell-Wright of Wickhams Wine in Devon explains all
Need to know
Every year, Beaujolais Nouveau Day celebrates the release of France’s most popular vin de primeur (early wine). A light and fruity red made from Gamay grapes which have been grown and harvested by around 400 small farms in the Beaujolais region, it’s bottled and sold within just six to eight weeks of the grapes being picked.
The ‘must’ (freshly crushed grape juice) is pressed after only three days, so the astringent tannins usually found in red wine are hardly noticeable. As a result, Beaujolais Nouveau is almost like a white wine, despite its purple-pink colour. Expect the bright, fresh, red-fruit flavours of strawberry, raspberry and cherry, plus notes of banana, grape and pear drops which bring to mind the childhood flavours of bubblegum.
A potted history
Since the 1800s, Beaujolais growers have made and drunk early wines to celebrate the end of the harvest. Now Beaujolais Nouveau is imbibed all over the world, especially in the US, UK and Japan where they’re mad about it. The 1960s saw the start of the obsession with getting the new vintage before anyone else, and what began as a sprint to get the wine to Paris spread to become a race to get bottles to scores of locations across the world. It’s now a quirky international event.
Serious or frivolous?
This is definitely in the fun category: the wine is inexpensive and easy-drinking, with the joy coming from taking part in an international wine moment each year. Even the labels are lively and part of the experience is finding out how the new bottles will be dressed.
Strictly for drinking?
No, you can cook with it too – traditionally in coq au vin or to poach pears.
How to serve
Slightly chilled at about 13°c. And serve generously – it doesn’t improve with age, so enjoy the moment.
How to get your hands on the new release
You’ll need to go to a specialist wine merchant like Wickhams to get hold of a bottle as few supermarkets stock Beaujolais Nouveau.
Wickhams has a limited allocation, so order early from the website to guarantee getting your mitts on some.
Pre-ordering is available until November 18 and the Wickhams team will deliver the wine on November 19. A case of six costs £72 or individual bottles are available at £13. Order yours here.