Freedom Wine

Beaujolais Day is here! Drink up while it's still Nouveau!

Waiting is the bane of human existence. You waited impatiently to grow up (that was dumb -- kids have more fun), you eagerly and desperately await each paycheck, and most of all, you bide your time all year until that one special day arrives. No, not your birthday -- that's not much fun anymore anyway -- we're talking about Beaujolais Day, celebrated on the third Thursday of November.

So you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, do you? Then you know all about the Beaujolais wine-making area just north of Lyons, France. But on this, the eighteenth of November, you know you won't drink any old Beaujolais ("old" being the operative word) -- you and the rest of the world drink the newest wine from that region, the Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais is a fun and fruity wine, enjoyed not for its complexity but for the sense of celebration that always surrounds its unveiling. There's no waiting around for a decade to let this red wine age; it was bottled two months or so ago, and its Gamay grapes are ready to go right here, right now.

Drop by the Westin St. Louis (811 Spruce Street; call 314-552-5708 for reservations) to celebrate "Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé" from 6 to 8:30 p.m. with Jack Valenti (pictured), former head of the Motion Picture Association of America. Your $35 ticket includes wine, hors d'oeuvres and a movie ticket for La Petite Lili, which screens at 9:30 p.m. at the Hi-Pointe Theatre (1005 McCausland Avenue) as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival. You just might be able to speak French after an evening like that!

If you would like to celebrate this great B-Day with more of a meal, make your reservations now to attend the Beaujolais Fête at Brandt's (6525 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-3663). For $40 enjoy a five-course dinner (from 6 to 11 p.m.), a glass of the celebrated wine and music from the Poor People of Paris (it's a band, not a group of vagabonds). And if you want to focus more on the wine, drop by Brandt's from noon to 6 p.m. for a wine tasting, sans food.

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