Uganda Toasts to French Wines

It is become a tradition every November for the Francophone business community in Uganda to organize the Beaujolais Nouveau wine party.

This year’s party was held last Friday at the Kampala Serena hotel. The event attracted many French companies, who shared the festive occasion with their Ugandan counterparts, celebrating the vitality of their business relationships – as they toasted to French wines, cheese and bread.

The Beaujolais Nouveau, also called “vin de primeur” or “first wine”, is a quickly-made red wine from southern Burgundy, in south-eastern France. Each year’s vintage is fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November.

A dedicated party is convened to taste the new vintage, along with dozens of French cheeses, bread and traditional “charcuterie” (cold cuts).

Initially, the Beaujolais was used to merrily celebrate the end of the harvest. Gathering people and thank them for their dedication to work has been transmitted over decades and this is why company directors still share this moment with their staff and customers.

“For us the Beaujolais Nouveau is the opportunity to look back on the way French companies have flourished in Uganda and to congratulate each other of the development of the economic relationship between Uganda and France,” said France’s ambassador to Uganda Sophie Makame.

“For example, the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries has increased by 20 per cent in 2013, so that Uganda is nowadays France’s second market in East Africa.”

The tradition itself stretches back nearly a century when paddleboats transported the just-made “premier vin” down the Rhone river to bars and restaurants in Lyon so that urbanites could take part in the harvest tasting and celebrating.

The Beaujolais was served in pitchers that were poured from the casks the wine had travelled in.

What was once mostly a local phenomenon eventually has spread to Paris and other big cities all over the world. Today, producers load up planes days in aance, waiting for the clock to strike midnight on the third Thursday of November.

Source : The Observer

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