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11.20.2004

Japanese Wine (Not Made From Rice)

The Japanese have a particular love of wine. I'm guessing it sprung up along with their penchant for buying impressionist and cubist paintings in the early 1980's during their economic bubble. But what then was a flagrant use of enormous wealth has settled into a more moderate appreciation for wine as a luxury item. Most of the Japanese businessmen that I worked with in 2001 and 2002 were huge aficionados, and I would occasionally get requests on my trips back to California to bring back something special. Currently Japan is one of the top consumers of higher end Bordeaux wines.

It's no wonder, then, that someone finally started trying to make wine in Japan. And we're not talking about rice wine here, but honest to goodness Cabernet, Merlot, and of course, some strange, secret grape hybrid developed in Japan called Shokoshi.

Here's an article from the Japan times describing the trials and tribulations of one of these first efforts to make indigenous wine in a place that does not have a climate suited to grape growing. The initial efforts are looking mixed -- "The Cabernet and Merlot had the depth of rose-colored dishwater and might charitably be described as "light and tart," but the other wines were quite interesting."

I wish them the best of luck.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud