Americans know the first Tuesday in November as Election Day and the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving, but the third Thursday — today, November 17 — is reserved for Francophiles and oenophiles alike for the annual holiday known as Beaujolais Day.
Under French law, Beaujolais Nouveau — the first wine of the harvest from the Beaujolais region just north of Lyon — can’t be sold until the third Thursday in November. Best served slightly chilled, the quality of this wine isn’t the reason to celebrate; this type is brighter and more acidic than most reds because it hits shelves just weeks after its gamay grapes have been gathered. The holiday marks the tail end of the growing season.
Some restaurants are marking the annual release with multi-course French lunches, dinners and soirees devoted to the red.
Bastille Brasserie & Bar
606 N. Fayette Street, Alexandria, Virginia
Christophe and Michelle Poteaux, chefs/owners of the edge-of-Old Town French eatery, pay tribute to 2022 Beaujolais Nouveau by offering Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Villages and Domaine Foretal all weekend long while supplies last.
1906 14th Street NW
Truly the anti-prom of Beaujolais Day, Logan Circle’s Michelin-rated staple is making a point of pouring not-so-nouveaux bottles of Beaujolais. “We, at Bresca, love even more than a nouveau is a real Beaujolais (old or not). So, for this iconic date we will be celebrating some of our favorite Beaujolais Crus and Villages,” per the team. Chef Ryan Ratio will offer three- ($82), four- ($92), and six- ($132) course pairings (5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m). Last-minute reservations still available after 7:30 p.m. Diners can expect wines from Fleurie, Morgon, and Moulin-à-Vent, as well as vintners Jean Foillard and Guy Breton.
Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
In a nod to the festive but not sommelier-forward wine of the day, Central Michel Richard showcases a three-day prix fixe menu dubbed “(Better) Beaujolais than Nouveaux est arrivé” from Thursday, November 17 to Saturday, November 19 during lunch and dinner service ($60). Wine offerings include Domaine Andre Cologne et Fils-Les Terres-Dessus’ 2020 Beaujolais “Gorge le Loup” ($10 glasses or $38 bottles) and Domaine de Fa’s 2019 Beaujolais “En Besset” ($13; $50).
The French Embassy
4101 Reservoir Road NW
On Saturday, November 19, partake in an endless open bar of Beaujolais Nouveau at this annual fall fete on French soil, complete with live music, cooking demos, a silent auction, and take-home baskets of French wines and chocolates. The celebration runs 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and tickets start at $149. Expect light fare from local restaurants and a French buffet prepared by the embassy’s chefs. Cocktail attire with a Parisian twist is encouraged.
1550 7th Street NW
On Thursday, November 17, the neighborhood French wine bar in Shaw offers free French tapas with every purchase of Beaujolais Nouveau (glass or bottle).
Vitis Fine Wine and Spirits
1309 5th Street NE
This Union Market wine shop’s Beaujolais Bonanza will feature juicy Beaujolais Nouveau from 15 producers that Vitis owners say will pair fabulously with Thanksgiving dinner.