As the French wine-producing town of Beaujeu celebrated the arrival of 2008's vintage of the now famous "Beaujolais nouveau", Japanese fans welcomed the wine in their own way: by bathing in it.
Japan's love of Beaujolais Nouveau hasn't gone cold, at least in this mountainous hot spring resort where people began bathing in the light red wine Thursday.
Roughly two dozen visitors at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun spa resort braved the cold temperature to dip in a wine bath for the midnight uncorking of this season's Beaujolais.
Every day until the end of this month, the resort will bring out a sommelier to pour the wine into an open-air spa.
"We try to offer something seasonal for our guests," said Mika Okitsu of the spa resort.
"Although it was very cold outside, people came out for the bath and they were sweating and enjoying the wine," she said.
It remains to be seen whether the fruity wine will receive such a warm welcome elsewhere in recession-hit Japan, which is the world's biggest importer of Beaujolais Nouveau.
Importers expect sales of the wine to fall for a second straight year due to a higher price tag and the economic crisis.
The third Thursday in November traditionally marks the official uncorking of the new season's Beaujolais.
Date created : 2008-11-20