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Shoot The Messenger

I've just come back from a lovely dinner, where we polished off two bottles of wine at a local Italian restaurant with dear friends and I'm tired. And for some reason, when I look at my calendar, and note the date, I'm also a little cranky. Or maybe that's just the spite of old age settling in. But I feel like lashing out, and this is, of course, the day to do it. All over the world, for the last 23 hours, people have been celebrating the most overrated event of the wine world -- the vinous equivalent to Valentines day, cooked up by the marketing forces of industry to sell more product. Crappy chocolate or goopy Gamay. Take your pick.

The Beaujolais Nouveau will never be "est arrive" in this household. I know a guy who invites everyone to his Thanksgiving dinner with the stern admonition that anyone who arrives with Beaujolais Nouveau will be turned out at the door and asked never to return. Now that's sensible.

It's not like there aren't good wines made from Gamay. It's not like there aren't fine chocolates in the world. But c'mon people, the stuff that flows like water the third Thursday in November is hardly worth all the attention.

Today is the one day I'm glad most US consumers are oblivious to French wine.

Oh. Excuse me. You wanted the balanced view?. Read to your heart's content. I'm off to bed.

Comments (23)

Lenn wrote:
11.18.05 at 1:20 PM

Tsk tsk...cranky!

It's overhyped...but BN has it's place.

Terry Hughes wrote:
11.18.05 at 1:54 PM

Yes, it has its place all right--distilled into industrial alcohol.

marc paladini wrote:
11.18.05 at 2:28 PM

You know what I did last night? I came home late and had some Nouveau with my girlfriend - and we had been looking forward to it for a while. And tonight you ask? We're going to open a bottle of 96 Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi - and it's going to kick ass.

And I would love to show up at that dude's house for thanksgiving with a bottle of each...wonder what he would do then?

I could rant but that wouldn't be constructive...I'll just drink my wine and enjoy whatever I enjoy and never apologize to anyone for it.

Keep Drinking.

Alder wrote:
11.18.05 at 2:31 PM


That's exactly what you SHOULD do! It's all that matters.

11.18.05 at 3:07 PM

Oldveau! Gimme oldveau!

Andrew wrote:
11.18.05 at 5:39 PM

god, wait till you get to my age - then you will know what cranky is!

I must ask though, when was the last time you actually tried a BN?

11.18.05 at 7:14 PM

I'm so glad to hear an American finally denounce this :)
Yes, Beaujolais nouveau has its place - when it's decent, which happens every other decade. At least in France, it's cheap. But here, it's an overpriced wine - after all, let's not forget Beaujolais nouveau is a relatively recent marketing trick used by some French producers to unload their crappy wine. I guess it's our answer to the Starbucks and McDonald's invasion of the streets of Paris.
I wish Beaujolais nouveau would turn more Americans to French wine, but it might just accomplish the opposite.

Alder wrote:
11.18.05 at 9:04 PM


I try some of it almost every year. Not this year though, which sounds like it was the wrong one to skip. I've been hearing reports that some producers have made very un-nouveau-like Nouveau.

Fiorenzo wrote:
11.19.05 at 12:11 AM

You know what, this debate between lovers and haters of BN reminds me some flame wars between Mac and PC users. A sort of waste of energies.

Ben wrote:
11.19.05 at 8:00 AM

Mac and PC? Well which one is the nouveau? Answer carefully or I'll show you a flame war!

As for my vote, I think Beaujolais-Villages and the Crus are much better for not much more money. But that's been said before.

steph wrote:
11.19.05 at 4:10 PM

First of all, I'm not really sure who would complain about how "at least in france it's cheap" regarding beaujolais...it's $9 here at it's most expensive...sounds fine to me!

Besides, no one's pouring it down your throat, so let us "uneducated, less discerning (not snooty enough for you) Americans who can't tell the difference between tradition and a marketing ploy" enjoy the damn stuff.

And since we can't contribute to that amazing haiku link on this website, I would like to contribuite a beaujolais haiku to this post, for all of those of you that aren't too prissy to drink a barely fermented, not complex, fun, drinkable wine.

Beaujolais Nouveau, Any Year you Choose

Drink that beaujolais!
No swishing, thinking, spitting!
Drink it while it's here!

Alder wrote:
11.19.05 at 5:00 PM


Thanks for the comments and especially for the haiku.

Beaujolais Nouveau makes me grumpy but everyone should drink what they like.

steph wrote:
11.19.05 at 6:01 PM

i didn't mean to sound so angry :)

i think your site is great - there's lots of amazing information - but because i'm young and new to really appreciating wine, i get really annoyed when anyone beats people up for liking something for any reason - even if you think that it's a crap marketing ploy, i could come back and say because you're not living in france, making money from french wine, that you're just mad that someone other than an american vineyard is making the money :) or i could say that you're just a conservative and don't like france :) i could say just as many crappy things about you that you say about beaujolais...

Even if you LOVE france, it'd be better if you talked about the two bottles of wine you DID have thursday night (which we never heard about) rather than how beaujolais makes you grumpy! info about what you DO like is FAR more valuable to us newbies than comments about what is popular that you don't like :)

thanks for all the (other) lessons you toss out :)

Paul G wrote:
11.19.05 at 11:46 PM

So you drink it for a couple of days, swear off it for life, and forget about it until the next year comes along.

Honestly, though, the BN parties in Paris are fabulous. The stuff flows like water (it's about as cheap as mineral water) and people are singing in the streets at 3am. If you think this is good, then you'll like BN.

jon o wrote:
11.20.05 at 9:05 AM

Bought a bottle last night, split it amongst the 4 of us. Did it taste good? No! Was it fun? Yes! Will I buy another bottle this year? No! Will I buy a bottle next year? Yes! My buddy likened it to having an intellectual conversation with a 3 year old. :)

Alder wrote:
11.20.05 at 9:34 AM


I do have to say that the parties do sound fabulous.

Ben wrote:
11.20.05 at 2:58 PM

So, why isn't anyone standing up for the poor Valentine's Day chocolates?! Shouldn't we be accusing Alder of being a love snob, too? I would, but I have to check my email.

Oh and a question: So the Noveau is praticularly good this year. Anyone heard about the 2005 vintage for the rest of France? I've heard some bits and pieces that sound promising.

Pim wrote:
11.20.05 at 6:38 PM

In defense of my friend Alder, I think BN smells like banana peel. I don't like it one bit.

On the other hand, having somehow found myself in Paris for the release day two years in a row, I must say it is rather fun drinking it on the day. Fun, but not good. This year I learned that it was even more fun to open a bottle of something else, perhaps another young-ish red, preferably unfiltered so it looked BN-ish and drink it while pretending with the others that I was drinking BN.


11.20.05 at 11:11 PM

Here's the thing to my mind. We should be reveling in a giant worldwide celebration for a wine. People are excited about it, and isn't that what we all want for our readers? For them to be excited about wine? When else in the entire year does this happen?

I worry that denouncing the Nouveau wines widens the divide between those who are passionate about wine and those who enjoy drinking it. In other words, it illustrates the concept of a wine snob better than anything else.

I say, use the BN events to turn people onto other Beaujolais rather than make them feel like they don't know what they're talking about. "You like this? Here, try this other one."

Alder wrote:
11.20.05 at 11:23 PM


Thanks for the comments. What you say may be true. And I definitely don't want to be widening that gap you speak of.

But what if I put it in these terms, since you are a food blogger as well:

What if every year on April 5th, Nabisco had a big "Fresh Baking in America" celebration, where they released "freshly baked" Twinkies and "just born" Ding Dongs and "hot steaming" Apple Pies. Would it be snobbery to say that it was a big marketing event for crappy food and that there were plenty of fantastic pastries available from bakeries around the country that were much better for the price? Would it be damaging to the public's relationship to baked goods? Perhaps it would turn some people off. "Those damn snobby food bloggers," they would say, "they think they are so high and mighty, and above the simple pleasures of Twinkies."

But really, for those who listened -- wouldn’t we be doing them a big favor?

Lenn wrote:
11.21.05 at 1:10 PM


Fresh Twinkies...interesting response to Derrick.

I just wanted to pop in again on the subject of the parties. My aunt (who got me into wine way back when) was in Paris for the release parties and she said she had a GREAT time. She tasted several different bottlings and bought a single bottle (she didn't remember the name when she emailed me) for she and I to taste on Thanksgiving. She admits that it's still not "great or complex wine" but called it "much more interesting than your usual BN."

I'll report back once I've tasted it.

In general, I'm against any form of snobbery...but everyone is also entitled to their opinion...on both sides of this argument.

Just drink what you like...ignore Alder...and Derrick...and Me...and anyone else.

11.21.05 at 2:29 PM


Good point, of course. But the problem is that people aren't daunted about the fact that others might not like their choice of pastry.

However, for whatever reason (reasons, more likely), there's a level of intimidation about wine that American drinkers seem to have a hard time getting over. They fret that they're not appreciating it to its fullest, that they haven't chosen a "right" bottle, or whatever. And so there's this divide we all know and love. Of course, it's easy to confuse passion for snobbery, and I would say you're passionate rather than snobbish. But I wonder about the average wine consumer's take on BN bashing.

And yes, BN as realized by Georges Duboeuf is a big marketing stunt that overshadows its historic meaning. The fact that other BN producers benefit as well is a good side effect. But I'd still vote for people getting psyched about anything involving wine. Two-Buck Chuck wasn't to my taste, but it got a lot of non-wine-drinkers drinking more. Graduating a person from that state is much easier than graduating people with 0 interest in wine.

Bob wrote:
11.23.05 at 6:52 AM

I was never much into the Nouveau thing myself. I prefer the St. Martin's Day celebrations myself. I relocated to Slovenia a little over a year ago, and was able to join the festivities this year. If this doesn't break any posting rules, here's a link for those who are interested:


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