In this country, the fourth Thursday in November gets all the attention. But in France, it's the third Thursday that gets everyone excited. That's the day winemakers in the Beaujolais region celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau.
Bottled and sold just six to eight weeks after harvest, the young gamay wines don't have time to age into something sniff-and-swirl worthy, which is entirely the point. They're juicy, fruity party wines, a post-harvest celebration of a job well done.
Before the onslaught of Turkey Day madness, head out this Thursday to drink up at one of the Beaujolais Nouveau events around town.
Southeast Wine Collective: On Thursday Nov. 20th, the restaurants and shops on SE Division are banding together for a street crawl from 5 to 8 p.m., and chef Aaron Barnett from St. Jack is returning to the east side for a guest appearance. For $25 (advance; $30 at the door) you can start at the SE Wine Collective's outdoor party where they'll be pouring their gamay nouveau, plus grenache nouveau from Fausse Piste and a collection of French Beaujolais Nouveau curated by Joel Gunderson of St. Jack. Snack on small bites from Barnett and the wine collective's chef Althea Grey Potter. Get tickets here.
Move on from the party and make your way up and down Division Street, where eight participating locations will offer small bites, tastes of wine, and event specials. Collect stamps at each place, and if you're one of the first 50 people to collect them all, you'll get a free growler of wine from the Collective. Pedicabs will be available to smooth the way. All proceeds go to neighborhood schools.
Bar Avignon: On Thursday Nov. 20, Bar Avignon hosts its Sixth Annual Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sip local wines from Bow & Arrow and Division Winemaking Company, plus French bottles from Domaine Dupeuble and Jean Foillard. To eat, it's a luscious lineup of French classics like cassoulet, pheasant and dried cherry sausage, and duck liver mousse. Make reservations here.
The Heathman: On Friday, Nov. 21, in partnership with the Alliance Francaise, The Heathman is hosting its annual grand Beaujolais Nouveau tasting and buffet, said to be the biggest of its kind on the West Coast. The sprawling French-inspired buffet features grass-fed beef, roast pig, lamb, charcuterie, cheese, and desserts. In true party spirit, there will be live music, games and raffles. Tickets cost $70 per person. A limited number of $55 tickets are available for young professionals (ages 21-35) who are first-time attendees. The event usually sells out well in advance so buy tickets soon.