At 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau, a young red wine made from hand-picked Gamay grapes, is released to the world.
And thanks to French law — yes, the law — not a minute before.
The celebration started in the 1970’s, but in 1985, Beaujolais Nouveau’s release date was officially changed to the third Thursday in November. And it was then that Georges Duboeuf, one of the largest producers of the wine, amped up the world-wide parties.
Now people around the world stay up to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day, and get their first taste of the 2016 harvest.
The grapes are picked in September, fermented and bottled in time for that 3rd Thursday in November. And while the wine is super young, it is a sneak peek of the grapes from the harvest.
But if you missed the midnight celebration, the wine is still a great choice for your Thanksgiving dinner. The red and black fruit aromas and hints of strawberry jam will work great with that big ol’roast and cranberry sauce. And at around $10 a bottle, the price is perfect.
Here’s a few more things to know about this now celebratory wine.
1. All the grapes in the Beaujolais region must be picked by hand. Just like Champagne.
2. The Gamay grape is the only grape that can be used in the Beaujolais Nouveau. Think of the Gamay grape as Pinot Noir’s little sister.
3. Beaujolais Nouveau is super drinkable because of a process called whole berry fermentation. That basically means the tannins aren’t pulled out of the grape skins so it’s very fruity and smooth.
4. Because Beaujolais Nouveau is made young, it is meant to be drunk young. Like within 6 months. Exceptional vintages, like many are declaring the 2016, can last a year. But that’s it. So drink up.
5. Like other fruit-forward wines, serve it chilled, even as cold as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It’ll be more refreshing than if you serve it at room temperature.
So grab a bottle the next time you walk into your favorite wine shop — and have your own midnight celebration.
Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for Foxnews.com, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip.