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Every third Thursday of November, millions of cases of Beaujolais Nouveau – a red wine made from Gamay grapes – is released to French villages, towns and cities and exported across the world.

“Beaujolais” is named after the wine region of Beaujolais, south of Burgundy.  “Nouveau,” which means new, refers to wines that are released the same year the grapes are harvested. So the Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebration of the end of harvest, offering a pleasant, fruity, light red wine to be enjoyed in moderation, of course.

Thursday, Nov. 17 is the official release day for the Beaujolais Nouveau 2011. Its release will trigger much celebration in France and abroad. And locally, here in the Bay Area, there is no escaping this great tradition.

  • Nov. 17: 20th Beaujolais Night Celebration at Zazie (San Francisco): $49 three-course meal dinner paired with three Beaujolais Nouveau wines, and “outrageous red outfits.” The event is sold out as of early November, but call to be added onto the wait list.
  • Nov. 17-20: Left Bank Brasserie (Menlo Park, Larkspur and San Jose): a three-course meal paired with Beaujolais.
  • Nov. 18: La Soirée (San Francisco, Metreon City View): a fete marking the 30th anniversary of the French American Chamber of Commerce, a celebration and tasting of the new Beaujolais (and other) wines, food paired with beautiful dancing and fashion shows. It doesn’t get more French than that.
  • Nov. 18: Conversation Beaujolais Nouveau (Alliance Francaise Berkeley): a monthly French conversation evening.
  • Nov. 19: 9th annual Beaujolais Nouveau Fete (Alliance Francaise Santa Rosa): mingle, speak and eat while sipping on a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Enjoy! (avec moderation!)