Chances are you’re well aware of Beaujolais Nouveau’s reputation as the Hallmark Holiday of the wine world.  It’s an immature French red whose best quality is its ability to motivate wine snobs and more serious drinkers alike to put aside their prejudices for one night and enjoy it.  That alone makes it worth celebrating.

Here in Washington, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to do just that.  Last year, we put together a list of Beaujolais Nouveau parties in the area and found ourselves wondering why Brasserie Les Halles hadn’t announced any plans.  A week later, we learned they were officially closed.

While Les Halles’ annual Beaujolais celebration will be sorely missed again this year, I’m pleased to report that several of the other reliable sources will be partying as usual when the clock strikes twelve and the wine starts flowing.  In most cases, the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely dinner and guarantee a seat at the local celebrations has passed…the early birds have already snapped up the escargots.  But we’ve got a few options for those of you who are just looking for a party:

BYT Presents a Breathless Beaujolais Party @ 1905: We really can’t do this one any greater justice than to reprint their writeup in its entirety.

“November 18th (Wednesday)
starts at 9pm
countdown and uncorking AND FREE WINE at midnight
wine, drink specials, french music (by DJ Jason Bond Pratt), merriment

10 bucks
come get Beaujolaid with us.


That’s right.  Ten bucks.  No RSVPs.  They’re also offering a $50 prix fixe menu at a 7PM seating that will guarantee you admission to what should be an amazing party.

1905 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC

Bistrot du Coin: This one is the Beaujolais Nouveau party you’ve always heard about – with good reason.  The restaurant’s dinner seatings are always fully booked weeks in advance, but as midnight approaches they pile up all the tables and chairs to make room for more guests.  If the weather stays nice, do yourself a favor and get there nice and early to camp out – you may just make it in when they start letting people in.  Inside, expect to be packed in with all of the other revelers.  When midnight arrives, bottles start opening as fast as the servers are able and they’re passed around to a grateful crowd.  It’s like Times Square on New Year’s Eve only smaller, darker and quite a bit warmer…definitely worth doing at least once while you’re in DC.

Bistrot du Coin
1738 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Two ways to celebrate on Thursday evening after the jump.

If you don’t feel like staying up until midnight to be one of the first to taste this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau (not counting everyone in France and all of the other countries where midnight arrived before it did here), you’ve got two solid chances to celebrate the release on Thursday evening.

Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration at the French Embassy: For $60, you can celebrate the release at the French Embassy with a few hundred of your closest friends.  This annual soiree offers buffets of country cuisine and fine pastries, free-flowing wine (more than just Beaujolais, by the way) and live music.  The event runs from 6:30 to 9:30 and you can expect to see plenty of familiar faces from Washington’s social scene on hand.  This is the most official of the various Beaujolais release happenings, but we’d still recommend trying to get to either 1905 or Bistrot du Coin on Wednesday night if you’re looking for a real party.

La Maison Francaise
4101 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC

Beaujolais Nouveau Kick-Off Party at Mon Ami Gabi: Last year, Mon Ami Gabi celebrated the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau with a week-long special menu themed around the wine.  They’re doing that again this year, but they’ve decided to get into the special event game as well with a kick-off party on Thursday, the 19th.  Beginning at 6:30 PM, the event will feature hors d’ouevres, plenty of Beaujolais Nouveau and live music.  Additionally, they’ll be giving away prizes throughout the evening, including an opportunity to have chef Andrew Fleischuer cook for you in your own home and a trip to Las Vegas.  If you’re up in Bethesda and dreading the drive down to Georgetown, think about stopping by Mon Ami Gabi.  Chain or not, their attention to detail and their faithful representations of classic bistro fare make them a great choice.

Mon Ami Gabi
7239 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD

So where will you be celebrating the release of the 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau (or will you be celebrating at all)?  If you know of more events we’re missing, let us know and we’ll add them to the list!