French figures: The wine that has its own special day

Most French wines can be drunk any time (although breakfast wine is frowned upon) but there is one that has its own special day.

French figures: The wine that has its own special day
Photo: AFP

The third Thursday in November is a special day in the wine calendar – the day that the year's Beaujolais nouveau wines become available.

Beaujolais nouveau is a primeur, a 'young' wine that is produced quickly and hits the shelves just a couple of months after the grapes are picked.

There are many types of primeur, but only Beaujolas nouveau gets its own special day – and this is due to nothing more elevated than a marketing campaign from the 1980s set up to popularise and promote this type of wine.

Beaujolais nouveau can be shipped earlier, but only goes on sale around the world on the third Thursday of November, and most years there are festivals to promote it with local events and 'wine races'.

READ ALSO 13 things to know about Beaujolais nouveau

Hugely popular in the 1908s, especially in the UK, Beaujolais nouveau suffered a backlash from wine purists who labelled it an imbuvable (undrinkable) wine that tasted of bananas.

While it's true that a lot of distinctly dodgy bottles were on sale during its heyday, especially abroad, these days many small producers in the Beaujolais region are working hard to ensure that their better-quality products get the recognition they deserve.

Within the Beaujolais area of eastern France, around a third of the grapes go to producing Beaujolais nouveau, while the rest produce wines with a longer and more traditional production time. However many prefer to be known by the name of the village or commune where they are produced, rather than Beaujolais.

This article is part of The Local France's 2020 virtual advent calendar – every day until Christmas we will be presenting you with a person or object that has a particular significance to life in France. 




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French figures: The true spirit of France

This is the incredible story about the teenage girl who became a symbol of France for the ages.

French figures: The true spirit of France
Illustration photo: AFP

The story of Joan of Arc – Jeanne d'Arc in French – begun like many fairytales do: an unlikely hero is chosen to accomplish a dangerous task.

Born around 1412, Joan of Arc was an illiterate peasant girl convinced that divine powers had decided she would fight the English army in France. 

She then did exactly that. 

This was during the so-called Hundred Years’ War, when English troops battled for territory across the country that is now France.

Joan of Arc liberated Orléans city from English forces in a legendary and decisive battle that paved the way for the later French victory in 1453.

Joan of Arc paid for her heroism with her life. She was captured and sold her to the English army, who burned her at the stake in Rouen, northeast France, around 1431. She was approximately 19 years old at the time.

But her short life left a lasting mark on France and in 1920 she was made a Saint. Almost 600 years after her death she is still commemorated and celebrated in France and her spirit is invoked during difficult times for the country.

Known today as “the Maid of Orléans”, Joan of Arc's silhouette is all over the city, ingrained on medallions on the street, cast into sculptures and painted on the boxes of Cotignac, an Orléans culinary speciality.

READ ALSO: Ten reasons why you should visit the French city Orléans

This article is the final instalment of The Local France's 2020 virtual advent calendar – featuring every day a person or thing that has a special place in French culture. To see the whole calendar, click here.