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Ready for wine from Japan?

Tea or sake tasting in Japan draws the crowd, but there’s something for wine enthusiasts too

Japanese wines are known for their delicate flavours. (Photo: Marta Filipczyk, Unsplash)
Japanese wines are known for their delicate flavours. (Photo: Marta Filipczyk, Unsplash)

When one thinks of drinks from Japan, options like matcha tea, sake and whiskey come to mind. Grape wines from the land of the rising sun are practically unknown.

A Bloomberg story, published on Thursday, reported that one of the country’s top alcoholic beverage companies, Kirin Holding Co. has a wine division that will start offering winery tours in English from this month. The winery is in Nagano Prefecture and enjoys a climate like Napa Valley with hot days and cold nights suitable for growing wines.The story says, “Visitors can harvest grapes, followed by lunch made with local ingredients on a terrace overlooking varietals for Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. Only at-the-vineyard wines are available for sale at the shop.”

Production of modern wine in Japan began about 150 years ago in the 1870s. The main wine growing regions are Hokkaido in north, and Yamagata, Nagano and Yamanashi which is close to Tokyo in central Japan. The grape varietal unique to the Japan is koshu, that creates a delicate white wine perfect for pairing with the cuisine of the country that focuses on clean flavours. “The characteristic of wine from Koshu is the refreshing aroma of citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and lemon, along with a light acidity and relatively low alcohol content,” notes a story titled, What is Japanese Wine?, published Japan Wineries Association. It reports that the country has over 200 wineries.

A few well-known wineries from Japan include Domaine Sogga (also known as Obuse Winery) from Nogano, Château Mercian from Yamanashi, Docci at Niigata, Yoicchi Winery at Hokkaido and, of course, Kirin in Nagano.

So, if you have plans to visit the country, famous for perfecting the culinary art of raw fish, do look out for Japanese wines at restaurant menus. Or, better still, plan a trip to a winery.

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