Sante! France welcomes start of Beaujolais Nouveau wine season

PARIS (Reuters) - Early-morning parties, parades and lots of raised glasses marked the release of the 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau wine across France on Thursday.

Made from Gamay grapes, the red wine is the most popular vin de primeur - wines that regulations allow to be sold in the same year the grapes are harvested. French law requires that the wine not be released for sale until 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday each November.

“It is important, yes, we taste it. I am not saying we are going to buy it every day but today, we do. It is important,” Sebastian Viry, who was sampling the wine in a Paris cafe on Thursday, told Reuters.

Although sales have been declining for 15 years, 22.5 million bottles were sold worldwide in 2016, down from 25.7 millions in 2015.

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; editing by Mark Heinrich