Why should you care about the thirdThursday in November? It's the day that BeaujolaisNouveau -- a French wine called BN for short -- arrives in stores all over the world.

This is a light-bodied, fruity, fun red, made from the Gamay grape in the region of Beaujolais. "Regular"

Beaujolais is released the year after the grapes are picked, but BN is released a fewweeks after the grapes come in. So the wine you taste was made with grapes picked justa few weeks before. The tradition started when winemakers wanted to use up theirGamay grapes and realized they could make a passable wine quickly with the useof the carbonic maceration method, where the fruity quality is preservedwithout the bitter tannins of the skins and seeds. What began as a winemakertrick became marketing genius. French law requires that BN be released no earlier than the third Thursday of November - no exceptions. This is not a serious wine - it's just fun and flirty and can be served chilledor at room temperature, and it pairs with virtually every food on the planet. Just don't keep it too long - it's meant to be drunk within sixmonths of purchase. And in these financially precarious times, you'll be happyto hear that BN is one of the best values out there; most bottles are about$10. A few producers are going green and bottling their BN inplastic bottles rather than glass; it keeps the shipping weight down.

Most wine stores carry three or four types of Beaujolais Nouveau, and here aresome of the better producers to look for: Mommessin,Georges Duboueuf, Joseph Drouhin, J. Arthaud, and Michel Picard.