Beaujolais nouveau is the first wine to be released for the year from the Beaujolais region north of Lyon and south of Burgundy. The early history of Beaujolais Nouveau can trace its roots to 19th century when the first wines of the vintage were sent down to the early bistros of Lyon. Upon their arrival signs would be put out proclaiming "Le Beaujolais Est Arrivé!" and its consumption was seen as a celebration of another successful harvest.
In the 1960s, this style of simple Beaujolais became increasingly popular worldwide with more than half a million cases of being sold. In 1985 the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine established the third Thursday of November to allow for a uniform released date for the wine which has become known as Beaujolais (Nouveau) Day. Wines are typically shipped a few days earlier to locations around the world where they must be held till 12:01am when the wines can be first opened and drunk.
Beaujolais Nouveau is the lightest, fruitiest style of Beaujolais and meant for simple quaffing. The red wine is meant to be drunk as young as possible, when they are at their freshest and fruitiest. Beaujolais Nouveau Day sees heavy marketing from producers, with races to get the first bottles of the vintage to different markets. Many wine critics criticize the wines marketed as Beaujolais Nouveau as simple or immature. It is often packaged in colorful bottles that play into the festival marketing of the wine.