Beaujolais Nouveau

Friday, November 19, 2004

Originally uploaded by nardac.
I remember the first time I heard about the Beaujolais Nouveau. It was in the summer of 1994, in Toronto. At that time, I had the acquaintance of two very particular specimens, Starboy and the Wench. Starboy was this ex-cycling champion who had posed as the Sun's posterboy. He smoked copious amounts of weed and dated the Wench, a horrible banshee of a woman with dyke butt who put way too much raw garlic in all her food. I still remembered her mangy cat Orphelia, who she insisted on not fixing, rubbing her pussy all over guest's shoes in a futile attempt for satisfaction. Gives a whole new interpretation of Hamlet.

Anyways, Starboy and Wench were beyond bourgeois, in a kind of poverty line sort of way. They knew enough about food to talk about catering for cottage parties (our normal hamburgers were replaced by inedible pizza with raw garlic), and were snotty about what techno to listen to. Of course they were chronically unemployed. They were the very first people to mention the words Beaujolais Nouveau.

I still remember their excitement.
-It's French, very hard to find here! We already ordered our bottles! It's a magnum!
-Yeah, we got two bottles! One to drink immediately, and one to wait on.
Not knowing anything about wine, being more beer inclined at that point of my life, I just nodded along absently and said, or
-that's great. Is it a screwtop?

For those who know anything about wine, even minimal amounts, there are two obvious mistakes in the preceding. First of all, Beaujolais Nouveau is not something they sell in magnums. That term is usually reserved for Champagne. Secondly, who the fuck puts Beaujolais Nouveau in their cellar???

411- for those who don't know, because, let's face it, the public enthusiasm might not have fully jumped the pond, Beaujolais Nouveau is the new wine of the season, express fermented after about a month after it's harvest. It's taste is extremely light, somewhere in between grape juice and wine.

Beaujolais Nouveau will come from the Beaujolais region, near Lyon, and is a relatively newly created vinicultural event. Only really admitted into the canon of wines in 1951, it's essentially the youngest wine, made from the mediocre grapes, while the better Beaujolais sits in the barrels, looking for spring.

The key thing here is the party. Every 15th of November, Beaujolais Nouveau is unleashed on the world. It's official date is upheld by wine-sellers around the world, but also, I suspect, to coordinate Beaujolais tasting parties. The wine is deceptively easy to drink, so mass guzzling is possible. So the euphemism wine-tasting is used to cover the fact that it's one big slosh-fest.

Today, parked in front of his little Repaire de Bacchus storefront, was our cute little wine seller. Normally viciously communist at heart, I saw him stuffing huge wads of cash into his apron, as he festively waved around bottles in front of gold and blue balloons. He screamed at us to have a tasting.

Dacnar and I were hesitant. Well, not really, I was hesitant and he never said no, just silly french eyebrow raise matched with pout. That translates to "why not." We tried our first glass together. It was strange, kind of grapy, lacking in any body, and had a bizarre banana undertone. I found it incredibly easy to gulp down and wondered about eating it with a beef pattie.

While we were sipping, some very direct and serious old men circled, tasting the "deBoeuf," the grand dame of Beaujolais Nouveau. They sniffed, they snorted, they pointed, cash was exchanged, bottles were packed in cardboard boxes. Very serious stuff.

Immediately after the old men left, while we still had our wine seller momentarily to ourselves, I took the time to tell him that the wine tasted like banana. He immediately looked down his nose, poured out a half glass, chugged it, and said, "no, it's more like cherry juice."

While his pronouncement went down, another guy came up, tasted and said, "can I try something that tastes a little bit more like wine?"

That's the problem with the Beaujolais Nouveau, it's getting a bad reputation. It used to be all hype, and November 15th was the official Christmas for vini-vendors. But now, it's becoming all too clear: Beaujolais Nouveau is lightweight and not worth the fuss. People complain that it tastes like nothing, or that the standard has gone down.

That's not stopping the parties, though. Walking towards the Metro, at 8pm, we passed the real estate office, and inside were all the agents, getting trashed on Beaujolais. Office girls letting their skirts hike up as sleazy slick hairs keeping refilling the grape juice. Last night, we saw numerous splotches of barf on the sidewalk, on the way home. I guess in France, they celebrate the equivalent of Thanksgiving by skipping out completely on the turkey and jumping into the grape bath.

I like the idea of a wine that's just made to party. You drink it like raspberry cordial, titter like 17 year olds, and find yourself brutally drunk after a few innocent glasses. There's something so sweet and teenage about the whole affair. I wish that they could led it flow through the taps nationally for the sole day it's released.

We eventually bought the banana wine and LOOK, check out DACNAR! The Beaujolais makes a party even before the uncorking! Word!