Beaujolais Nouveau Day: 3rd Thursday of November

ボジョレー・ヌーヴォー Beaujolais Noveau in katakana.

In 2017, Beaujolais Nouveau Day was November 16th.  It is a red wine made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France. It is the most popular “vin de primeur,” being fermented for only a few weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November.

Beaujolais Nouveau is an extremely popular wine in Japan. Perhaps it is due to its “exclusive” release date? I really don’t know, because I consider it typically not a very good wine… and this year my husband was swayed by the colorful marketing of ボジョパ Bo-jo-pa (translation: it is a shortening of “Beaujolais Party”) in stores, forgetting past attempts to drink this years ago and my admonishments regarding drinking this wine. So he ended up bringing home a half size bottle, and was reminded why we never purchase it. If you would like to find it, just go to any grocery or liquor store in Japan.

In Hakone, the Yunessun onsen (hot springs) has a special wine bath, possibly inspired by the Japanese obsession with this wine… errrr, interesting, right?

Well, anyway, you will see this wine being marketed heavily in Japan during November near its release date. Some people even pre-order it. I have seen event flyers for “midnight release” parties. I fail to understand, as most of it seems to come in the plastic bottles with screw tops. And not to be judge-y, but that typically does not signal a fine quality wine. The labels are often very floral and colorful, kind of reminding me of girly shampoo bottles. But, to each their own… if you like it, enjoy it, and maybe check out Yunessun in Hakone?


Wine Lottery: ワイン福袋

So “wine lottery” is not really an official term, but the translation is rather appropriate. Fukubukuro 福袋 means “lucky bag” in Japanese; often this is seen during the New Year Sales at stores. So, wine lucky bag, or wine lottery as I refer to it is when a store sets out a number of sealed paper bags, each with a wine inside, and sells each bag for a set price (for instance 2000円). Now the thing is, they put up a sign with the various wine that could be inside and the number of chances, but it is random luck which you choose! Usually these wines range from the minimum price of the bag and up… sometimes as much as a 20000円 wine could be inside. Basically, it is a lottery… you never lose per se, but sometimes you can win big. I will admit, sometimes I will weigh various bags, or try to feel the bottle shape to help determine what it may be. This has probably never helped, but one time we ended up with a 6000円 bottle of wine, so I was pleased. Obviously, most people will get one of the bottom tier wines, but… some people get lucky. Sometimes stores will even have Awamori lottery (awamori is the local Okinawan liquor).

Anyway, as silly as it seems, I really enjoy this type of thing. It is kinda thrilling not knowing which one you will get up and opening it up when you get home. I admit, I will buy one of these wine lottery bags whenever they are for sale…