We all know that Beaujolais Nouveau is a better marketing gimmick than it is a wine. But because this bright, acidic French red cannot legally be sold before the third Thursday in November, it's a great excuse to stay up late on a Wednesday and drink wine after midnight. Here are five places where you can sample the fruits of the harvest next week.
Bistrot du Coin
The biggest Beaujolais Nouveau party in town takes place at Bistrot du Coin, where lines start at the front door and stretch down Connecticut Avenue. The draw may be free-flowing Beaujolais Nouveau after midnight, but the real attraction is the atmosphere.
Once dinner service finishes – sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. – servers begin clearing tables and chairs to turn the dining room into a dancefloor. Then, after the ceremonial midnight popping of the first bottle, DJs spin thumping house music, a laser light show flashes overhead, and dancers on stilts entertain the crowds.
Free wine, free admission: no wonder it's so popular. The best way to guarantee admission is to make a dinner reservation, even if it's on the early side, and hang out at the bar until it's time to party. Otherwise, be prepared to wait in line: Once the restaurant hits capacity, admission becomes one-in, one-out. (A secret for night owls: If you arrive after 1 a.m., there's rarely a line and still plenty of time to drink.)
Brightest Young Things
The BYT posse is again taking over 1905 for a wild and crazy party called "Get Beaujolaid." Doors open at 10 p.m., with food and discounted drinks served until midnight, when everyone gets all the Beaujolais Nouveau they can drink. DJs Gavin Holland and Chris Burns – aka the Party Bros – spin French and French-ish music all night. Advance tickets were snapped up quickly, but a limited number of $10 tickets will be available on the night, beginning at 10 p.m., so get there early.
The coziest French restaurant on H Street NE isn't hosting a late-night party to welcome Beaujolais Nouveau, but it will offer complimentary glasses of the wine to all guests at the bar and in the dining room between 5 and 10 p.m.
Central Michel Richard
The restaurant's annual Beaujolais Nouveau party features a special menu, 15 percent off all wines from the Burgundy region and, from 7 to 10 p.m., live gypsy jazz from Laissez Foure. Look for special "wine games" to win free drinks. There's no cover charge, but an optional five-course set menu is available for $150 per person.
The Hot Club of D.C., a regular at Bistrot Lepic's weekly jazz parties, performs hot, swinging jazz in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. The group performs from 7 to 10 p.m. in the upstairs wine bar as part of the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration. (The 2013 vintage will be available by the glass and bottle.)
Fall Beaujolais Tasting at Cork
Cork is hosting a seasonal tasting on the first day of Beaujolais Nouveau season, offering tastes of several wines from two family producers: Domaine Pascal Granger and Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois. Wines will be paired with selections from Cork's holiday menu, and representatives from the importers will be on hand to discuss the wines and take questions. Tickets are $50, not including tax and tip. Reservations can be made by calling 202-265-2674 or e-mailing Tastings@CorkDC.com.
Beaujolais and Beyond Celebration
Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations don't get much classier than the one that the Alliance Francaise and French-American Chamber of Commerce are throwing at the French Embassy's La Maison Francaise. Snack on food from local French restaurants, drink unlimited wine (with non-Nouveau selections from France, Italy and the U.S.), participate in a blind wine-tasting contest, test your smarts in a trivia contest or dance to a DJ in the ballroom. The evening has a Roaring '20s theme, so dress accordingly. General admission tickets are $60; VIP tickets, which allow entrance to a private tasting event at 7 p.m., are $95.