<<EDIT 11/18 @ 4:00 PM: In case you’ve clicked into this post directly, we’ve got some big news about Brasserie Les Halles’ plans (or lack thereof) and two more Beaujolais Nouveau events here. Check it out.>>
You have to hand it to the French, they know marketing. They invented high cuisine and luxury goods while European neighbors were still playing with their food. Have a fresh wine that won’t age as well as its cousins? Create a race to deliver the first bottles to cafes and restaurants across the world!
It’s the perfect combination of product and advertising, really. The wine is bottled no more than three days after harvest and designed to be consumed soon and fast. The wine, a light, fruity red, is practically meant for gulping rather than swirling and sipping. Being the lovers of bureaucracy that they are, the French government has even stepped in to regulate the process: By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau can not be released before the third Thursday of November. DC restaurants and organizations take advantage of this, with fantastic parties leading up to the great moment at midnight when the wine is delivered to the crowd like a champion boxer.
Although the reservations for Bistrot du Coin’s popular pre-release dinner and midnight toast are long gone and none of the newer wine bars (Cork, Proof, Veritas, Vinoteca) have announced any Beaujolais Nouveau-related events, there are still quite a few option out there for Francophiles and wine-lovers alike.
Details on where to get your Beaujolais on after the jump.
Brasserie Les Halles – The DC branch of the restaurant best known as Anthony Bourdain’s launchpad will definitely be celebrating the release of the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau, though they have not yet set their plans for what that celebration will entail. In previous years they have offered several varieties of the wine for tasting, a DJ playing French pop, and even complimentary tripe (I know! We couldn’t believe the luck, either!). Reservations are still available, though you can expect them to fill up relatively quickly once their plans are announced. Bonus points for the animation of the two cows making out on their homepage!
Mon Ami Gabi – Another chain with locations across the country, Mon Ami Gabi will be celebrating the release of the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau at their dinner service from Thursday, November 20th through Wednesday, November 26th. Make your reservations now for a dinner that will feature Beaujolais-inspired cuisine, or take advantage of their participation in OpenTable’s Appetite Stimulus Plan(which runs from the 17th through the 21st) and pair it with a glass of the Nouveau on Thursday or Friday evening. They’ll also be offering ‘select’ wines for purchase.
International Club of DC – This group of “internationally-minded professionals” puts on a wide variety of social, cultural and even educational events throughout the year, including upcoming events that celebrate the cultures and cuisines of Russia, Austria, India and Italy. Their “Beaujoalis-Not-So-Nouveau” reception takes place on Thursday, November 20 at 6:30 PM in the Embassy Suites on 22nd Street. It is a celebration of the entire range of wines from the Beaujolais region, organized by GiraMondo Wine Adventuresin collaboration with French Wine Society and the Washington Wine Academy. For $19 you can enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau, with additional wines available for purchase by the glass. Or you can go all-in for $59 and taste all you wish with paired appetizers in the VIP tasting room.
Alliance Francaise – The non-profit French language and cultural center hosts an annual wine and cheese reception on the Friday after the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau (this year it’s on the 21st from 6:30 to 9:30 at the Alliance’s headquarters on Wyoming Avenue, NW). Tickets are $25 for members and $35 for non-members, and they boast French accordion music in addition to the wine and cheese.
French International Culinary Society and French-American Chamber of Commerce – With the Culinary Society on board, you know the food is going to be stellar at this reception on Friday, the 21st, from 6 to 9 PM at the Washington Club on Dupont Circle. Naturally, the price tag reflects this – $80 for non-members with a $10 discount for members of either the FICS or the FACC. They’re billing it as a “gastronomic excursion” (not the most appetizing turn of phrase…) and touting participation by David Deshaies of Citronelle, Patrick Orange of La Chaumiere, Francois Dionot (the President of L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda) and others. A full bistro buffet, a silent auction, and cocktails made with French (of course) vodkas round out a reception that’s as much about networking as it is about noshing.
If you feel like you absolutely MUST be part of the festivities at Bistrot du Coin and you don’t have a reservation yet, bring a warm beverage and plan to wait in line outside for a few hours on Wednesday night. Once the dinner service is over, they clear out the tables, dim the lights and go standing-room-only with a DJ. At that point, they have been known to let in a few more folks (not to exceed their legal occupancy limit, of course…) to join in the fun.
Wherever you end up celebrating, do yourself a favor and grab a bottle to take with you to this year’s Thanksgiving celebration. The light, relatively uncomplicated flavor of Beaujolais Nouveau allows it to pair surprisingly well with a wide range of Thanksgiving flavors.