Beaujolais Nouveau Midnight Bottle-Opening Ritual Goes Global

Friday, 22 Nov 2013 11:23 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Bars and wine shops worldwide opened their first bottles of 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau at midnight Wednesday, part of an annual ritual that started in Paris.

"The party has started," Bernard Rogue-Bouge told the Associated Press while attending a celebration at his Au Petit Chavignol Restaurant in Paris. "Cheers! To the Beaujolais!"

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While the celebrations took place in Paris, the wine was the top choice for the Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel to recommend to customers.

"Part harvest festival, part good excuse to drink wine, the annual release of Beaujolais nouveau takes place the third Thursday on November," Vettel said Wednesday. "Beaujolais nouveau is a light, fruity, food-friendly and fun red wine meant to be enjoyed young, and preferably chilled. Beaujolais nouveau shouldn't be taken too seriously and should never be expensive — and that goes for the celebrations as well."

Wine Spectator reported that three of the top Beaujolais Nouveaus this season are bottled by Georges Duboeuf, Domaine Rochette and Joseph Drouhin. 

"Just south of Burgundy, red wines from Beaujolais are made from the Gamay grape, yielding wines that are typically light- to medium-bodied, with red berry and cherry fruit flavors," wrote Alison Napjus of Wine Spectator. "Beaujolais Nouveau is made from grapes sourced from anywhere in the region, although most comes from vineyards in the southern part of Beaujolais."

While the Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations is public-relation driven, it has been a boon for the wine industry each November. As many as 8.8 million bottles were purchased in Japan, the wine industry's leading market outside of France, according to Euronews.com.

"One prominent wine expert has said this year’s wine contains a whiff of blackberry, raspberry and cherry – describing it as 'sturdy' despite fears it might have been damaged by a late harvest," Euronews.com reported.

The Associated Press reported that Beaujolais Nouveau wineries export a larger portion of their wine compared to any other producer in France, shipping out roughly 47 percent of their bottles annually. The U.S. purchased more than two million bottles in 2012.

In other places, like England, sales have slumped in recent years, to the extent that some supermarkets no longer stock Beaujolais Nouveau.

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