The long-awaited release of each year's Beaujolais Nouveau comes at the strike of midnight on the third Thursday in November, which will be November 20 for 2008. This is a glorious time to visit this part of France, or to even visit your local French restaurant or wine shop to get a bottle.
There are about 120 festivals to honor the arrival of this enticing young wine in the Beaujolais region alone, not to mention throughout France and across the globe.
The Beaujolais wine-producing region runs from Lyons to the Basse-Bourgogne (lower Burgundy), and is filled with great villages and its roadways are dotted with scenic vineyards.
There are several festivals in the Beaujolais region, including: Beaujeau has its Sarmentelles festival, which begins each year at 5 p.m. the day before the wine's release. It features a tasting of the region's wines, followed by a torchlit procession and the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau. The festivities continue through the weekend. Beaujeau is the historic capital of the Beaujolais region.Tarare hosts La Fete de la Beaujolais Gourmand, commencing the day before the release and running through the weekend. The festival features five days showcasing gourmet food and wine.Villefrance will be home to les Calades, a festival featuring the newly released wine and music.Salles-en-Beaujolais holds its annual Nouveau Hike, which will take visitors to various cellars.Lyon, the largest city in the region, holds its Beaujol'ympiades, which marks the midnight release with music and fireworks, followed by two days of sampling the newly unveiled wines.Paris isn't exactly in the Beaujolais region by any stretch, but it has a number bistros which celebrate the release.
One of my favorite traditions is to get some new Beaujolais Nouveau wine, and put it out on the table on Thanksgiving. It's also great to keep this light, young red wine around for Christmas festivities or even give bottles as holiday gifts.