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Bathing in Beaujolais: Japanese Oenophiles Uncork at ‘Wine Spa’

Image: 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau wine
Guests raise glasess filled with 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau as they enjoy a 'wine spa' at Hakone Kowakien Yunessun hot spring resort in Hakone, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, Nov. 20, 2014. With overseven million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau imported each year, Japan is the wine's largest market outside France. FRANCK ROBICHON / EPA

A group of Japanese wine-lovers celebrated the uncorking of 2014's Beaujolais Nouveau in a novel way Thursday, taking a dip in a 'wine bath' at a hot spring resort west of Tokyo. The French wine is traditionally released just after midnight on the third Thursday in November, just weeks after the grapes have been harvested, and Japan is its largest export market.

Back in France the celebrations were a little more traditional, with locals gathering on a cold night in Beaujeu, the capital of the Beaujolais region, to taste the new vintage.

Image: People celebrate the traditional event of "the Sarmentelles" that starts the "Beaujolais Nouveau" edition
People in the French town of Beaujeu gathered overnight to celebrate the traditional "Sarmentelles" event marking the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau. JEFF PACHOUD / AFP - Getty Images
— David Arnott