Beaujolais Nouveau wines, featuring the gamay grape, are released the third Thursday of November each year. This tradition originated in the Beaujolais region of France. Locals bottled gamay weeks after harvest to drink and celebrate the end of a long, busy season in the vineyard. For years, this was a widely hyped wine day in the U.S., though it seems to have quieted down. I asked storied Orange County wine retailers, Hi-Time Wine Cellars and Wine Exchange, how they’ll approach Nov. 16, 2017—Beaujolais Nouveau Day.
Hi-Time Wine Cellars – “We have many customers who look forward to the third Thursday in November each year—perhaps since the Nouveau is such a good wine to pair with the variety of textures, flavors, and umami found on the Thanksgiving table,” says Tobin Sharp, the creative director. “The wines, believe it or not, can be quite good (depending on the vintage) and are pretty easy holiday quaffers regardless. Vin sérieux? Perhaps not, but there are people who look for it each year, so we will continue to support the annual campaign. We usually bring in a handful of Beaujolais Nouveaus, six to 10 bottlings. We also have a featured tasting on the Wednesday after the release date, so Nov. 22 for $15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.” www.hitimewine.net
Wine Exchange – “Beaujolais Nouveau day doesn’t carry quite the weight it used to with our customers: as a matter of fact, almost none,” says Kyle Meyer, managing partner. “I think folks have slowly forgotten, especially since Beaujolais is trying to move past ‘nouveau.’ The new guard of producers find it an antiquated misuse of the region’s quality and don’t promote the concept here. We used to buy 50 cases a decade ago. Now we buy three and hope we sell them all. I guess it’s a good thing that wine drinkers have looked past Nouveau and moved on to Pinot Noir, real Beaujolais and other lighter-weight reds to pair with the bird … though a part of me is sentimental with regards to the pile of brightly colored boxes that we used to stack high back in the day.” www.winex.com
You’ll also find Beaujolais Nouveau at big box wine stores like Total Wine, BevMo, and likely the local grocery store. Prices will range from $10 to $15 per bottle. It is recommended you chill your Beaujolais Nouveau a bit before serving.
Beaujolais Day Orange County Festivities at Moulin
Since 2014, Moulin has celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day with Orange County wine lovers. On Nov. 16 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Moulin will feature the producer Georges DeBoeuf’s 2017 release for $5 a glass or $12.95 per bottle at the Newport and Laguna Beach locations. At the Newport Beach bistro, Moulin will also offer a Steak Frite dinner with all-you-can-drink Beaujolais Nouveau for $39. The dinner will include a Ribeye steak served with Béarnaise and pepper sauces, unlimited fries, and a fresh mixed green salad. Reservations are recommended. www.moulinbistro.com