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. (more…)

brasserie-cherry-blossomsNote to self: when a restaurant that has an annual Beaujolais Nouveau release party doesn’t have the details firmed up ten days out from the event, it’s a pretty good sign something is up.

As it turns out, the reason that Brasserie Les Halles didn’t have their plans set when we published our list of parties last week (we suspect) is because they closed last night.  According to Metrocurean, owner Philippe LaJaunie has put out a press release announcing the closing and indicating that it was due at least in part to the expiration of their lease.  It seems a bit odd that they couldn’t arrange to stick around through Thursday to go out after the Beaujolais release party, and a call to the LHLM (Les Halles-Les Marais) Group in New York received a response indicating that they do not yet have any information to share as the closing just occurred today.

beaujolaisBut far be it from us here at Capital Spice to close one door without opening two windows for you.  If you still haven’t made plans to celebrate the release of the 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau, here are two additional options:

Brightest Young Things and 1905The people who brought us the 12-plus hour election day party now step up to la assiette with a party that offers you a chance to “get Beaujolaid” at the newly-opened 1905.  For $10, you can enjoy wine, drink specials, and French music starting at 9PM on Wednesday (tomorrow) night and counting down to the official release at midnight.  They’ve got a limited number of tickets, so if you want to check out the party you should do yourself a favor and email ASAP.  Yes oui can, huh?  Sounds familiar…

Planete Chic’s Soiree Beaujo Chic – Another option for Friday night.  Join Planete Chic and their international crowd for a no-cover party from 6 to 10PM at Midtown (1219 Connecticut Ave.).  They’re promising sexy lounge beats and French DJ JR le Sainte.  Attire is business casual for this afterwork soiree, but their flyer says very little about Beaujolais Nouveau’s role in the evening.

<<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. (more…)