Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau 2016

In a depressing, semi-apocalyptic year defined by reactionary responses to globalism, it’s fair to ask ourselves what, exactly, we are celebrating, when we celebrate the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau on Thursday.

Is Beaujolais Nouveau a symbol of international marketing run amok, an artificial wine-like confection of sugared-up, overproduced grapes, aimed straight at the lower rungs of the world’s supermarket shelves? Or does Beaujolais Nouveau represent rather the opposite: an homage to local tradition, a village fête for newborn wines, fragile and pure?

It depends where one celebrates. In liquor stores, chain wine shops, and supermarkets around the world, believe the worst about Beaujolais Nouveau. But Beaujolais Nouveau in Paris is something else. The city’s traditional bars and bistrots enjoy unparalleled access to France’s natural wine scene, where many winemakers manage to produce unadulterated primeur wines that retain the fleeting, keen flavors of their village origins. So in Paris in 2016 we can raise a glass to the ironic destiny of well-made Beaujolais Nouveau – a simple village wine that, merely by maintaining its simplicity, can become a curious luxury.

What follows is a list and map of the Paris establishments hosting Beaujolais Nouveau parties in 2016, along with whose wines they’ll be serving, and which winemakers, if any, are expected to be present for the occasion. (Nothing is guaranteed. Winemakers are like that.)

Beaujolais Nouveau 2015

The imminent annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau – no longer a media firestorm in the best of circumstances – may seem, in the wake of last Friday’s Paris terror attacks, about as pertinent as a rubber duck.

In such troubled times, who needs wine? Who needs cured ham and cornichons? Who among us needs to gather with friends and loved ones? Who can bring themselves to purchase inexpensive bottles of glimmery young gamay and share it liberally with neighbors? Who wants to support Paris’ liveliest tradition-minded bars and bistrots when their business has been threatened?

Well, perhaps quite a few of us. Beaujolais Nouveau, ordinarily an occasion for slightly meaningless fun, can become, in 2015, an occasion for slightly more meaningful fun.