Red circles on calendars are marked for tomorrow, Nov. 17, when red wine will be flowing like, well, wine across the world.
The annual uncorking of Beaujolais Nouveau is here. Under French law, new Beaujolais Nouveaus can't be sold until the third Thursday in November (or tonight, starting at 12:01 a.m.). The quality of the wine isn’t the reason to celebrate; this type of wine is brighter and more acidic than most reds because it hits shelves within just weeks after its grapes have been harvested.
Beaujolais Nouveau symbolizes the tail end of the growing season and an invitation to partake of autumn’s bounty, which means seasonal menus make for plentiful pairings.
In France, Beaujolais Nouveau Day means fireworks, music, and festivals. For a more accessible party, many D.C. French restaurants have fun with the annual event by pouring Beaujolais Nouveau on the house or giving out unlimited tastings. Some are capitalizing on the holiday even further by crafting prix fixe menus around the cheap red. Here are some of Eater’s picks for Nov. 17:
Cafe du Parc at the Willard InterContinental
1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
The hotel eatery will celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau in partnership with Georges Duboeuf Wines. The series of celebrations kick off at 5 p.m., with Le Bar at Cafe du Parc offering free Beaujolais Nouveau tasting with passed hors d'oeuvres. And from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., get Beaujolais Nouveau for $5 per glass as well as other Beaujolais wines available by the glass. From 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m., the restaurant ups its game with a fixe four course menu featuring Georges Duboeuf wine pairings for $65 per person or $85 with pairings (think lobster bisque and braised short ribs).
ENO Wine Bar
2810 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Beaujolais Nouveau Villages Vielles from Domaine Duperray. The crisp Gamay is available at $11 per glass and $55 per bottle. Also come for the free live music on Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m, and free two-hour valet parking at Four Seasons Hotel.
Mon Ami Gabi
11950 Democracy Drive, Reston, Va.
On Nov. 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Reston location of the French bistro is teaming up with a leader in the Beaujolais category, Les Vins de Georges Duboeuf, to for a special wine pairing dinner. The seasonal menu from Executive Chef Phil Frederick includes garlic sausage and creamed brussels sprouts with dijon mustard and shellfish cassoulet. The event is $70 per person (tax and gratuity not included), and call ahead to secure a spot.
606 N. Fayette St. Alexandria, Va.
From Nov. 17 to Nov. 19, the Old Town French eatery will pay tribute to 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau by offering a three- or four-course menu ($39 and $49 respectively) designed to pair with the new grape. Pick from escargots Forestiers, Assiette de Charcuterie, and desserts like Classique vanilla Crème Brulee or Profiteroles au chocolat. Domaine Manoir du Cara, Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2016 will be available to accompany the meal at $9 per glass and $32 per bottle.
502 H St. NE
From 6 and 9 p.m., sip Beaujolais Nouveau on the house at the bar. Aside from its typical French fare to nosh from, this laid-back celebration won’t have many bells and whistles beyond that.
801 O St. NW
The 2016 harvest will be sold by the glass throughout the restaurant for $10 and at the bar for happy hour for $7. Bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau will be available for $25. Specials will go until the wine runs dry. Chef Cedric Maupillier is planning on cooking sautéed frog legs with a chestnut and foie gras puree, chanterelle mushrooms and crispy shallots, as well as comfort food like a banana ice cream sandwich wrapped in fluffy puff pastry drizzled with chocolate.
Bistrot du Coin
1738 Connecticut Ave. NW
This longtime D.C. celebration is free and super packed every year. Following two dinner seatings on Wednesday at 7 and 9 p.m., the dining room converts into a dance floor with French music. At midnight, free bottles and glasses of wine are handed out for free and the party really gets started. This year’s pick is from Bouchard Ainé et Fils.
The French Embassy
4101 Reservoir Rd. NW
Expect a endless open bar of Beaujolais Nouveau at this no-brainer location to celebrate the event. The embassy's chefs have curated a buffet, with hors d'oeuvres from local French eateries. The party, which also includes a DJ, silent auction, and raffle, runs from 8 to 11 p.m. and costs $75 (a VIP ticket with a private tasting is $135).