Beaujolais day…. Is it just Swansea that celebrates it after all?
Beaujolais nouveau day is a day to celebrate the first harvest of Gamay Grapes that makes the Beaujolais wine from the Burgundy region of France. It normally happens on the 3rd Thursday of November, which is 16th November this year. The wine is produced, bottled and released within a few weeks of the harvest.
Beaujolais nouveau will taste different year after year, depending on the weather the region had. Due to the quick fermentation process, the wine does not have the depth and structure of other wines but is fresh, fruity and can have tones of cherry, strawberry and raspberry. It’s not known as a well-established wine due to the speed it takes to get the drink produced. Nevertheless, Swansea celebrate this wine above all others.
So, what’s the hype then Swansea??
I have lived in France, and knew nothing of this day. Clearly someone somewhere in France must be celebrating it outside of the Beaujolais region! It wasn’t until I moved to Swansea that I noticed half the city has the day off to attend this event. Beaujolais day is something you book for months in advance (like a Christmas party). The whole city goes Beaujolais mad!
Thousands of people dress up in their best clothes and hit the city centre for a day of drinking, eating and celebrating with friends and colleagues. Restaurants and bars are full, public venues and marquees are put up across the city for the city’s wine lovers raise a toast to the first wine of the season. In 2016, Beaujolais day was ranked as the third busiest night in Swansea, after ‘black Friday’ and New Year’s Eve (not bad for a Thursday!) Beaujolais 2016 also brought in an estimated £5 to the local economy.
Beaujolais is no joke here in Swansea! Bars and restaurants across the city brace for one of the busiest days of the year. Even though it’s on a Thursday, bars prepare for a packed crowd at 2pm, providing live music from the early afternoon, late into the night. The Brangwyn Hall, Swansea (notably used for university examinations and old venue for graduations) has hosted a Beaujolais day for a few years, and this year they have invited X factor and Dancing on Ice star Chico (the guy from ‘its Chico time’ – yes… him!). This is how seriously we take Beaujolais day here! Beaujolais day is actually a whole day as well. The Brangwyn will be opening their doors at 12 noon for this event!
Is Swansea the Beaujolais capital?
Swansea does have some competition for the city that celebrates Beaujolais day: Cardiff. Nowhere near the size and hype as Swansea, but they are joining in on the Beaujolais band wagon and enjoying a cheeky Thursday drinking afternoon. London does have various events for Beaujolais day as well, but not to the extent as Swansea!
Outside of Britain the main competition Beaujolais is Japan. Last year, reports state that 60 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau was shipped over to Japan. With an estimated 127 million population, that means 1 bottle between every 2 citizens. If you take out the under 18’s you have a bit more than half a bottle each! So, they might be as crazy as us in Swansea…. Or even a bit more seeing the distance the bottles must travel!
Wherever you may be on Beaujolais Day, enjoy!