When laws about wine sales conflate with commerce, wine lovers, and a healthy dose of competition, the result is something like Beaujolais Nouveau. This fruity red wine is harvested and fermented for only a few weeks before it’s shipped out—which, according to French law, can’t be before the third Thursday in November. Here’s where to celebrate in Washington:
Who wants to waste time when a holiday revolves around wine? Celebrate the first few seconds of Beaujolais Nouveau at the Brightest Young Things’ “A Breathless Beaujolais” celebration Wednesday night at 1905. The countdown starts at 9; at midnight, the corks come out. The $10 cover includes wine and a DJ. No RSVP required.
Holding out for Thursday proper is La Maison Française, where the French embassy (4101 Reservoir Rd., NW) is hosting a Beaujolais celebration from 6:30 to 9:30. The menu includes a buffet and French pastries along with other French wines. Francophiles might want to check out the silent auction and raffle—the grand prize is a trip to Paris. Tickets, $60 per person, can be ordered here.
What do you eat with Beaujolais? Look no further than Open Kitchen (7115 Leesburg Pike, #107; Falls Church), which is hosting a Beaujolais Nouveau & Beyond food-and-wine pairing on Thursday. Four courses of French food include classics such as charcuterie, coq au vin, and escargot. Dessert is Beaujolais-poached pears with spiced mousse. Wine pairings are included in the $90 price. A reception is at 6:15; dinner starts at 6:45. Call 703-334-1504 or click here to make reservations.
Old Town’s Bastille restaurant is celebrating with a special three-course prix-fixe menu, available Thursday through Saturday. Dishes such as grilled duck sausage with grapes and Gruyère or ribeye with pommes frites are designed with the wine in mind, although Beaujolais isn’t included in the $39 price. Call 703-519-3776 to make reservations.
Mon Ami Gabi is partying two ways this year: On Thursday, there’s a Beaujolais Nouveau Kick-Off Party, with glasses of the new wine, live music, and French-inspired hors d’oeuvres—think miniature croque-monsieurs, warm brie with honey, and profiteroles with hot fudge. Door prizes include dinner for four, and a Las Vegas trip for two. The event is being held at both the Reston (11950 Democracy Dr.; 703-707-0233) and Bethesda (7239 Woodmont Ave.; 301-654-1234) locations. It starts at 6:30 and is $35 per person plus tax and gratuity; to reserve a spot, call the individual restaurants.
The following week, a special menu will feature dishes complemented by Beaujolais, including a rabbit amuse bouche and smoked trout with Brussels sprouts. The menu will be available at both locations until Wednesday, November 25.
Sip your wine with a little Edith Piaf at Alliance Française de Washington’s Beaujolais Nouveau Wine & Cheese Party. On Friday, a day after the corks have been popped, enjoy Beaujolais, French cheeses, and French oldies music from 6:30 to 9. At 9, the UK-based DJ Hervé will spin an electronic French mashup until 10:30. Tickets are $35 each; $25 for Alliance members; click here or call 202-234-7911.