Sunday, November 20, 2005

Beaujolais Nouveau - the real menace to tourists in Paris

With all the fuss and hubbub around the Paris riots, a much more immediate and important danger to Paris tourists emerged just last week: the Beaujolais Nouveau! The Beaujolais Nouveau festivities arouond France are delightful – kind of like St. Patrick’s Day in the US, but with that special intensity that the French reserve for all things wine.

Be forewarned, however, that the wine itself is anything but delightful. Beaujolais Nouveau is a kind of a Frankenstein wine created by performing unnatural acts with grape juice. Specifically, carbon dioxide is pumped into the fermentation tanks (a process called carbonic maceration) – this accelerates the wine’s aging process and also produces famously punishing hangovers.

The resulting beverage has a lurid purple color not found elsewhere in nature, an acrid odor and a taste that is somewhere between cherry koolaid and vinegar.

Right now, the Paris riots are invisible, but the Beaujolais Nouveau menace is everywhere. Every bar is plastered with marketing propaganda meant to make Beaujolais Nouveau look like a drinkable, even enjoyable beverage, and every bartender appears to be working on retainer to move the stuff as quickly as possible.

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