As a nation, we really got the shaft, holiday-wise. Don't you think? How many officially sanctioned non-family drinking holidays do we even get? I'm thinking inarguably two, with New Year's and St. Patrick's Day. Maybe another three qualify: Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine's Day, and Halloween. Is that enough? Is that nearly enough? Hell, no! In Brazil, they get about a million days off for Carnival. In Italy, the whole country shuts down for the Ascension. I heard in Norway if you have a kid you can take off, like, the next decade. What do we get? Lousy Presidents' Day? The hell we do!
Thank god other countries are willing to sell us some of their holidays. Like the good people of France. You give them--and specifically Georges Duboeuf--ten bucks or so and they'll cut you in on one of the best drinking holidays they've got: Nouveau Beaujolais Day-slash-weekend!
Here's the deal: This wine is from the 2001 harvest, meaning it was grapes on vines maybe as recently as the last time you did laundry--say, seven to nine weeks ago. It is rushed from the fields, pressed, not allowed to get all tannic or anything through contact with the skins, and bottled: Badda bing, badda bam! It gets shipped all over the world. Soft, fruity, juicy wine, best served cold. French law says you can't open it till the third Thursday of November, which is this week. Then, everybody can open it at the same time. So everyone does. It's a party.
Official partying around here will happen at, among other places, Vincent (1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612-630-1189), where chef Vincent Francoual will be making a special bistro dinner including pork-and-prune pâté; the 510 Restaurant (510 Groveland Ave., Minneapolis, 612-874-6440), which will showcase four Beaujolais nouveau wines with a $60 prix fixe menu; La Fougasse and Chez Colette (both at Hotel Sofitel, 5601 W. 78th St., Bloomington, 952-835-0126) will have a $38 four-course prix fixe menu all weekend, and probably half the other wine-interested or French-based restaurants in town will have something too. Theatre de la Jeune Lune is throwing a fundraiser in honor of the Beaujolais nouveau this Thursday the 15th: $50 gets you a seat at their performance of Tartuffe, as well as a post- and pre-performance party with bread and pastries from the New French Bakery, cheese from France 44, and as much of the juicy juice as you care to get involved with (105 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612- 333-6200.)
Or just buy your own bottle and baguette and cheese and have your own good time in the spot of your choosing, triumphant in the knowledge that you've wrested a day from the dreary workaday sameness and made it a holiday.