Why should you care about the third Thursday in November? It's the day that Beaujolais Nouveau -- a French wine called BN for short -- arrives in stores all over the world.
This is a light-bodied, fruity, fun red, made from the Gamay grape in the region of Beaujolais. "Regular"
Beaujolais is released the year after the grapes are picked, but BN is released a few weeks after the grapes come in. So the wine you taste was made with grapes picked just a few weeks before. The tradition started when winemakers wanted to use up their Gamay grapes and realized they could make a passable wine quickly with the use of the carbonic maceration method, where the fruity quality is preserved without the bitter tannins of the skins and seeds. What began as a winemaker trick became marketing genius. French law requires that BN be released no earlier than the third Thursday of November - no exceptions.
This is not a serious wine - it's just fun and cheap and can be served chilled or at room temperature, and it pairs with virtually every food on the planet. Just don't keep it too long - it's meant to be drunk within six months of purchase. And in these financially precarious times, you'll be happy to hear that BN is one of the best values out there; most bottles are about $10. A few producers are going green and bottling their BN in plastic bottles rather than glass; it keeps the shipping weight down.
Most wine stores carry three or four types of Beaujolais Nouveau, and here are some of the better producers to look for: Mommessin, Georges Duboueuf, Joseph Drouhin, J. Arthaud, and Michel Picard.