A Wine Boom in Japan! From Wine Trivia to Recommended Japanese Wines
Japanese wines, which often have delicate and fruity flavors, have recently been attracting attention around the world. So this article introduces the main characteristics of Japanese wines with recommendations for wines to try.
What is Japanese wine?
"Japanese wine" is wine distilled in Japan using only grapes grown in Japan as opposed to "domestic wine", which is distilled in Japan with imported grapes and concentrated grape juice. Wine is produced around the country in Japan, but the prefectures of Yamanashi, Nagano and Yamagata are known as the three major producers.
Japanese wines were regarded poorly in the past, but they have improved thanks to efforts by wineries to boost the quality of both their grapes and distillation processes. Recently, some Japanese wines have won medals at major wine competitions and exports have grown, resulting in an increased awareness of Japanese wines worldwide.
[Japanese Red Wine Recommendations]
Red wine grapes cultivated in Japan include Japanese varieties, such as Muscat Bailey A and Black Queen, as well as international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Musée du Vin Matsumoto Daira Black Queen (Nagano / Alps)
Alps is a winery that was established in 1927 in Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture, an area suited to viticulture. It is committed to producing safe, reliable wines that customers can feel comfortable about through meticulous quality control of the ingredients and adoption of the latest large-scale equipment. The recommended wine is Musée du Vin Matsumoto Daira Black Queen (1,400 JPY (excl. tax)). Made from Black Queen grapes (a Japanese variety) aged in French oak barrels, it is a well-balanced wine characterized by a deep purple color like that of garnets, concentrated fruit flavors, just the right bitterness and a smooth texture.
[Japanese White Wine Recommendations]
White wine grapes cultivated in Japan include Koshu, which is unique to Japan, as well as European varieties, such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and American varieties, such as Niagara and Delaware.
Aruga Branca Clareza Distintamente (Yamanashi / Katsunuma Winery)
Katsunuma Winery, which has been instrumental in the development of the Katsunuma wine industry since its establishment in 1937, specializes in the Koshu variety that Japan is known for, and oversees the whole process from cultivating the grapes to distilling the wines. The recommended Aruga Branca Clareza Distintamente (2,000 JPY (excl. tax)) is the main product of its premium Aruga Branca series and is a perfect accompaniment to Japanese food, with a clear color, light citrus-y acidity and a hint of bitterness.
Baccus (Hokkaido / Tokachi Wine)
Grapes grown in the chilly land of Hokkaido is distinguished by a strong acidity and fruity and refreshing flavors. Baccus (1,480 JPY (excl. tax)), named after the Roman god of wine and winemaking, deftly draws on these characteristics. It has a refreshing acidity and light flavors that pairs perfectly with a meal.
Tokachi Wine's winery, Ikeda Wine Castle, is scheduled to reopen after renovations in April 2020. It will offer visitors tours of its wine cellars and exhibitions regarding viticulture and winemaking as well as wine tastings and will also have a shop of its wines and other local products.
Sparkling wine also recommended!
Sparkling wines are also produced in Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures and other places around Japan. With fine bubbles and a refreshing flavor, sparkling wines are a versatile drink that go with a wide range of food, from appetizers to desserts. The flavors differ considerably depending on the producer and grape variety, so it is well worth trying a few.
*The image is for illustrative purposes only
Japanese wines are attracting attention from wine lovers around the world, so be sure to experience them!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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