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Talking Turkey and Boozing Beaujolais

I woke up in the middle of the night remembering to “order the turkey.” Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and even though we live in France, it’s a holiday we Americans refuse to miss. While some of the markets will have packaged turkeys just for this occasion, especially in areas of the city where many Americans live, the “babes” in plastic wrap just may not be big enough to grace this particular Thanksgiving table of happy hungry Americans.

Friends are both coming to town to celebrate and leaving town to celebrate — t’is the season of festivities we wouldn’t want to miss a merry minute. Celebration starts early here in France, and in drinking holes all over the world, wherever Beaujolais Nouveau is about to pop a cork.

One minute past the stroke of midnight on the third Thursday of November, more than a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau work their way around the world from all the tiny villages in the Beaujolais Region, spread out over 240 square miles in Burgundy, bordered by Maconnais to the north, the Rhone Valley to the south, and the river Saone to the east.

“Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!” (The New Beaujolais has arrived!) It’s probably one of the most brilliant marketing ploys the world has ever known. By the time we’ve wined all weekend, almost half of the bottles will already have been distributed and drunk. It’s a race to the first to taste, but by French law (!), not one drop is to be released until the stroke of 12 this coming Thursday.

They claim that Beaujolais Nouveau is about as close to a white as a red wine can get and therefore makes a great bridge if you’ve ever wanted to retrain your taste buds to accept color. If you’re traditionally a red-drinker, then you may not see what all the fuss is about. Georges Dubeouf, the largest producer/distributor/promoter of Beaujolais Nouveau, is laughing all the way to the bank while sales have risen from a million to 70 million bottles annually.

I suspect it’s France’s way of competing with America’s Thanksgiving — providing a bona fide great excuse for friends and family to gather and celebrate. We don’t deny that it’s a barrel of laughs and fun… in homes, cafés, restaurants, pubs, bars and bistros all over Paris, all over France and around the world, lifting our glasses of clear red chilled wine, snacking on “saucisson” and “fromage” while toasting to a wine that isn’t all that great to drink! (I’m sure many of you may disagree with me, but that’s okay. I’m an inveterate red wine drinker from way back and find Beaujolais less than satisfying, except of course, this one time of year.)

My favorite zinc bar on which to rest a Beaujolais elbow is Bistrot à Vins Jacques Mélac at 42, rue Léon Frot in the 11th (Métro: Charonne). If you’ve never had the pleasure of knowing Jacques with his elegant oversized handlebar moustache, his wine bar of beaucoup bottles, his table of Aveyronnais cuisine (Jacques comes from the village of Bozouls) and his delightful crew of jovial Joes, do it now!

For a listing of all the best “pots” of Paris, visit http://www.beaujolais.com/pages/bpratique/bistrots/FR/bistrots.asp and more this site has to offer.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

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P.S. If you missed yesterday’s Parler Paris Après Midi, do not stress…read all about it and see our favorite photos from the raucous afternoon by clicking on /parlerparis/apresmidi.html Then, mark you calendar for next month’s meeting on December 12th.

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