It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Time

Celebrating the release of Beaujolais Nouveau is a global phenomenon and a great excuse to party the French way.  Officially released for sale the third Thursday of November each year amid fanfare and excitement, the race is on to get the first bottles of the vintage to Paris and other markets, then the party starts all around the world!  Sacramento’s Fête du Beaujolais Nouveau is celebrated on Saturday, November 20 at the midtown venue Antiquité Maison Privée from 6-9:30 p.m.  Festivities include music, wine, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction benefiting the Alliance Française de Sacramento and their building fund.

So Just What is Beaujolais Nouveau (Boe-zho-LAY  new-VO) Anyway? It’s a young, fun and easy drinking wine made from the gamay grape and fermented just a few weeks.  By law the grapes must be harvested by hand and grown in the Beaujolais region of France.  Fruity and without tannins, Beaujolais Nouveau is meant for drinking 6-8 weeks after harvest and generally shouldn’t be kept for more than a year.  About half of all Beaujolais Nouveau produced is exported, Germany and Japan being the primary markets, followed by the U.S.A.

What’s the story? Beaujolais was a simple regional harvest wine produced for local consumption.  In 1951 The French Union Interprofessionelle des Vins du Beaujolais formalized November 15th as the official release date and made the name Beaujolais Nouveau official.

French vintner and entrepreneur Georges Duboeuf, saw potential for marketing Beaujolais Nouveau.  By creating excitement, Duboeuf could profitably reduce his inventory of ordinary wine.  His idea was to create a race to Paris carrying the first bottles of just released Beaujolais Nouveau.  This attracted growing media coverage and by the 1970s the race had become a national event.  In the 1980’s more races gained popularity in countries throughout Europe and the United States and Asia jumped in on the fun.  In 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday in November.  Here in the U.S. the release is just in time for Thanksgiving.

This year’s host, Alliance Française de Sacramento is a non-profit organization that promotes the French language and culture.  Currently there are more than 1,100 branches worldwide, with the first established in Paris in 1883.  The Sacramento chapter has over 600 members and offers more than 20 French classes for all levels as well as cultural and social events.

Cost for the Fête du Beaujolais Nouveau fundraiser is $25 for Alliance Française members/ $30 non-members/$35 at the door.  A complimentary glass of Beaujolais Nouveau is included.  For further information, to purchase tickets or provide Silent Auction donations contact the Alliance Française de Sacramento office at (916) 453-1723.

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