Friday, November 16, 2012

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé

Yes, folks, it's that time of year, the time to drink wine and celebrate. How is this different than any other time? Because it's Nov. 15th, of course, or because, as a Frenchie may say, "le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!" (or in other words, the wine, Beaujoulais (bo- zho-lay) nouveau (nu-vo), has arrived.....or more or less has been released in stores in restaurants, a thing that apparently only happens once a year) And people celebrate as if this is the one time wine is available to the world! I remember seeing glimpse of the hype last year, but didn't think much about it. Last night, the night of the release, Adam and I met up with a friend, totally forgetting this magical holiday. We wandered around looking for a place to grab a drink and stumbled upon a random restaurant full of people, balloons, wine, and a live band attempting to play American music. I think we heard everything from the Beatles and Pearl Jam, to REM and Oasis with that slight bit of 'off-ness' you may get from any foreigner trying to sing English word-for-word. Power to them, but despite the liveliness, the whole atmosphere was certainly an odd mix.

Our friend is American who knows a tad more of the French culture, but even she claimed (along with the French she's asked) that no one really knows why this thing is so hyped. I've never tried the wine myself, so I thought maybe this is something similar to ice wine, something where the grapes have to be harvested at a certain time, say, after a first frost, to produce a super sweet drink or something just as memorable? But she said, no, it's not really like that. It's kinda like, uh, wine? We three shared a bottle, and it was good, but nothing crazy memorable (well, NOW it is after all the balloons and REM associated with it), but this had me really curious; why all the hype?

Looking into the subject a bit, I learned that Beaujolais Nouveau is a type of Beaujolais wine which is bottled only 6-8 weeks after harvest, making it a very simple, tasty, fruity young wine. Law enforces that the grapes be picked by hand and fermented in a way that restricts the bitter tannins from the skins to infiltrate the brew, so it really is a nice light red. Storing it for long periods of time won't enhance it's flavor, so when it arrives, it should be drank immediately!  ha

The creation of this form of Beaujolais' younger sibling had originally been celebrated on a more local level signifying the end of harvest in that region, but after WWII, some had the idea to market the stuff to clear our lots of ordinary wine at a profit and increase cash flow around harvest time. Vintners came racing to the big cities to hype up their creation and by the 70s it became a national holiday of sorts. The release date was then officially set to the third Thursday of November, and slowly creeped out to neighboring Europe, North America and, and now Asia.

This works well for us in the states as Beaujolais Nouveau has been cited as the Thanksgiving wine of choice. Coincidence?  I think not. I think the global marketing team knew exactly what they were doing.

November 15th is also my Grandpa's birthday. Talking to him yesterday, I asked if he was doing anything special, and he said, "...well, not much. I think your aunt might be coming over for a glass of wine." That sounds nice, I said, not yet connecting the two events, and I told him we'd be sure to have a glass for him as well that evening. Well cheers to you grandpa, not only did we have a glass, but the rest of the world was celebrating as well....Especially all these guys below....

Shanghai got it right!

No comments:

Post a Comment