The Francophiles out there will know this, but for the uninitiated this Thursday is Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France. It is a vin de primeur which means that it’s a French wine that the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) has allowed to be sold within the same year that it’s harvested.
There’s been a long-standing tradition in Beaujolais of producing a vin de l’année to celebrate the end of the harvest but this was largely a local tradition until after World War II. In 1951, the AOC relaxed restrictions that said the soonest Beaujolais wine could be sold was December 15th. They pushed the release date up to November 15th and Beaujolais Nouveau was born.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a purple-pink wine which is bottled a mere 6 to 8 weeks after harvest. The result is a young, fruity wine with mild tannins that’s meant to be served slightly chilled and drank immediately. While many wine connoisseurs consider Beaujolais Nouveau to be simple and immature, it’s an excellent early indicator of the quality of that year’s wine harvest and provides an opportunity to enjoy wine while it’s still fresh and fruity.