While the French still produce and consume the most wine per capita, Japan is continuing to grow as one of the biggest wine markets in the world — and they’re not afraid to show their passion for the beverage.
It’s one thing to drink wine, but it’s another altogether to have it poured freely into a pool, into your cupped hands, and over your head.
Nonetheless, that’s just what happened at a hot-springs resort in the Japanese city of Hakone as revelers celebrated the wine-filled holiday Beaujolais Nouveau this year.
A spa called Hakone Kowakien Yunessun brought in people to bathe in its hot pools, which staff filled with a mixture of red wine and water. Guests drank freely, both from glasses and their bare hands.
The spa poured about 20 bottles of the special-edition wine for the celebration, divided between the tub and guests’ glasses.
What exactly is this crazy holiday they’re celebrating?
Beaujolais Nouveau is an annual tradition that celebrates a red wine by the same name. It is a vins primeur, a type of wine sold the same year it’s harvested. This specific type is especially rare, as it is only fermented for a few weeks, which fills the wine with a fresh and fruity taste. The Gamay grapes it’s made from are hand-picked from Beaujolais, a famous wine-producing region of France.
At midnight on the third Thursday of every November, bottles of the wine go up for sale. The French have more than 100 festival celebrations across the country, sometimes even with fireworks — but it doesn’t compare to the celebrations that go down in Japan.
It seems that with their bathing, the Japanese have really made the special day their own.
Food And Wine reported that in 2014 Japan imported nearly 8 million bottles of the special edition Beaujolais Nouveau wine. America, on the other hand, only ordered about 2 million.
“Bathing in wine is a rejuvenation treatment for the body,” is the the mantra espoused on the spa’s website.
And maybe it’s not so crazy — after all, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, was said to have loved bathing in wine.
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