The day French are allowed to pound wine
Today, on the third Thursday of November, bars, pubs, bistros and restaurants across France – and the world – will welcome countless eager drinkers of Beaujolais Nouveau. In one, carefree night millions of liters of arguably France's most treacherous red wine will be guzzled down across the planet.
Because of a French law dating back several decades, the beverage cannot be uncorked before midnight on the third Thursday of November. That tradition has been respected across international borders and has led to the only worldwide celebration dedicated to wine.
That should make the third Friday of November a serious contender for World Hangover Day, although the United Nations has yet to accept an official application for the christening.
Yes, Beaujolais Nouveau is world famous, but so are the unfortunate side effects of heavy intake: nuclear, blinding headaches, unrestrained regurgitation and bone-deep pain that refuses to leave the body.
As one of my French colleagues resently put it, there are two kinds of hangovers: The standard hangover and the frightful Beaujolais Nouveau hangover.
Yet despite the infamous hangovers it produces, the fever for Beaujolais Nouveau only continues to spread.
Why? Many credit the marketing genius of Georges Duboeuf, the biggest producer of the brand, and its leading promoter. For more on that theory, read this comprehensive cover story by The Tasting Panel in 2006.
But the hype around Beaujolais Nouveau is easier to figure out than that. Outside France it’s a quick way to tap into the country's tradition of refinement. In France it’s an excuse to shake off that label and finally pound some alcohol like frat boys after exam week.
Beaujolais Nouveau is served chilled to be drank hard and fast, and that is what the French do. For once they are allowed to collectively forgo rules about appreciating the wine’s color, aroma and its hidden hints of undecipherable woody fruits and fungi.
For once they are allowed to let loose and drown in wine for what it’s really worth: dancing with people you don’t know and charming that attractive someone you would have never dared approach sober.
Beaujolais Nouveau is the world’s most un-wine-like red wine, and we can all drink to that.