French wine Beaujolais Nouveau: Everything you need to know

French wine Beaujolais Nouveau: Everything you need to know

by Clara Avrillier

Updated November 7, 2022

France is famous for its incredible selection of wines. From Alsatian wine to Bordeaux bottles, we’re spoiled for choice. Beaujolais Nouveau wine, in particular, is such an integral part of French culture that they have a whole day dedicated to it: Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Learn all about what the Beaujolais Nouveau wine is, when and why it is celebrated, as well as some tips on the best way to drink it!

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What is Beaujolais Nouveau?

Beaujolais Nouveau is a type of French red wine that is released (and celebrated) every year on the third Thursday in November. It is made in the Beaujolais region of France, just north of Lyon, using Gamay grapes and a unique process called ‘carbonic maceration.’ It’s a very fresh wine as it is bottled around 6-8 weeks after the grapes are harvested and it is low in tannins, thanks to the production process.

Who invented Beaujolais Nouveau and when?

The story of Beaujolais Nouveau started back in the 19th century, when it was first produced in France. It was originally made for locals. However, in the 1960s, a group of winemakers felt it had a lot of potential and decided to launch a race to see who could send the first bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau to Paris. The contest was a hit and nowadays winemakers across the country race to send bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau to countries all over the world.

When is Beaujolais Nouveau Day?

Beaujolais Nouveau Day is celebrated on the third Thursday of November every year. But the Beaujolais Nouveau season opens beforehand, when harvesting and pressing the grapes begins. The release of the wine is even written into French law: The wine can only be sold after 12:00 am on the third Thursday of November. Nowadays, many cities across France hold events and festivals in honor of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine and it really is a celebratory occasion for many. There is even an English slogan used: “It’s Beaujolais Nouveau time!”

How do you drink Beaujolais Nouveau wine?

Unlike most wines, Beaujolais Nouveau does not get better with age, and perhaps the clue is in the name (nouveau means new in French). So it’s better to drink this wine as soon as possible, generally within the first six months. 

Another quirk is that it’s best to drink it chilled. Most red wines should be consumed at room temperature, but the suggested temperature for the French wine Beaujolais Nouveau is around 55°F (12.7°C). In terms of food pairings, Beaujolais Nouveau can be served with a variety of dishes including turkey, chicken, cheese and salmon.

Time for a toast

So grab your glasses and get ready to toast this wonderful French wine. Whether you’re celebrating in the country itself while learning French or receiving a bottle in your own country, anyone and everyone can celebrate the Beaujolais Nouveau wine in November each year. And what could be better than a whole day just to celebrate wine?!

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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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