Illegal Wine and Forbidden Cheese

Shhh… Don’t tell!

Tomorrow, being the third Thursday in November, is the official release date and festivities for this year’s  Beaujolais Nouveau, celebrated in every little wine store in France.  Having managed to get my hands on an advance bottle with the idea of doing an early review, I discovered something even more interesting: it turns out that drinking or selling this rather frivolous wine before that date is actually illegal, with the threat of a 150€ fine!  …So I can tell you that it’s light and fruity… and the threat of legal prosecution definitely gives the wine a bit more heft!

It’s all legal after midnight tonight, and tomorrow most wine shops will be offering samples, but one of the best place in Nice to try Beaujolais Nouveau is Cave Caprioglio in the Old Town.

Would you like a little illegal cheese to go with your illegal wine?   According to my favorite cheese restaurant, Le Bistro du Fromager, at one point the very possession of Reblochon cheese was proof of moral turpitude and was cause for arrest. In the 14th century, dairy farmers paid landowners grazing fees based on the milk yield.  The landowners charged abusively high fees, so to get back at them, some farmers would not do a complete milking; once all had been accounted for they would then secretly milk the cows again.  Supplemental milking produces a liquid that is almost all fat, so the resulting cheese was easily identifiable (Reblochon actually means ‘second milking’) and had to be hidden.  Possession of Reblochon cheese was proof of stealing from your landlord and could land you in jail!

See Related Pages:  

November Events: Le Beaujolais Nouveau!

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4 Responses to Illegal Wine and Forbidden Cheese

  1. Bruce Bethany says:


  2. Jo Mackenzie says:

    Fun, Maypay, it’s about fun! Yes it’s usually gut rot, but it’s a tradition, it celebrates the new vintage & it’s fun! Drink something if else if you don’t like it. Might as well say you would expect the Americans to have invented Christmas; now there’s over-hyped. Such sour grapes, lighten up!

  3. Maypay says:

    I hate Beaujolais Nouveau and the idea that it is usually served cold to hide the nasty flavor. It is thin and overpriced rubbish. And all the hype for what? Touting it is a scheme I would have expected to have started in America.

  4. Bruce Bethany says:

    It was Georges Duboeuf’s wily scheme to get rid of barely drinkable plonk. His project proved so successful that even people who rarely touch wine adore it. There was such demand in New York that we had to carry it at at Loup in Nov/Dec every year. It was so cheap in those days (’80s) that I underpriced it. When it didn’t sell well I upped the price by several dollars and quickly sold out of it.