Originally published in Taste Swansea magazine, Autumn 2016
Beaujolais Day – it's now a phrase synonymous with a good time! An enjoyable day out with friends, usually involving a few drinks too many. Many restaurants, bars and hotels across Swansea have truly embraced the event, with revellers out in force on the third Thursday of November – this year falling on 17 November.
However while dressing to the nines and drinking the night away is always great fun, it's worth remembering why the day is celebrated in the first place.
Let's first look at the drink in question. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes and produced in the Beaujolais region of France. What makes this wine so unique is that it's fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November.
In the past, the highlight of the day was 'the race' – the quest to get the first bottle of Beaujolais from France to Britain, while parties would be held throughout France, as well as here in Britain to celebrate the first wine of the season.
Andrew Hetherington, director of Swansea's CPA's Wine, was able to fill me in on what makes the wine so extraordinary.
'Beaujolais is a wonderful wine and is so special because it's drinkable just a few weeks after the grapes have been harvested,' he said. 'Beaujolais Nouveau Day itself is the celebration of the end of the harvest season. Looking back 28 years ago, when we first started CPA's Wine, it was a fun event that involved a race back from Beaujolais to get it into the restaurants as quickly as possible.'
'We went to enormous effort to get the wine back as early as we could and get it into the restaurants. It made for an exciting day!'
'Although these days perhaps not everyone samples the Nouveau itself, Beaujolais can be quite serious wine and is well worth trying,' he added. 'It's a vibrant red with a light, fruity, fresh taste – 'bubblegummy' is a classic description. It's a very easy drinking wine, and can be served slightly chilled.'
While it's clear that Beaujolais Day has now evolved in Swansea from the celebration of the new wine to a more general end of autumn celebration, it's worth taking a minute to consider the wine that started it all.
Andrew Hetherington and Paul Davies and are co-directors of CPA's Wine.