Sayonara Wine Paradox?


I have to admit it was the image–a tuxedo-clad Asian pouring wine into a steaming purple pool of people–that caught my eye before the article in the Guardian it accompanies, titled ‘Japanese wine forces grape snobs to think again.’ The shot was actually taken in a Japanese wine spa, and doesn’t really have much to do with the story. But it reminded me of two things:

One is the power of good photojournalism. Amid all the talk of the supposed collapse of traditional media, I think a provocative and timely photograph can still tell a good human interest story on its own, and certainly also draw people into reading on.

The second is a conversation I just had with some organic Japanese farmers (and alcohol aficionados) based in Tokyo, who were raving about the current transformation of the Japanese wine industry into something really globally competitive, thanks to the country’s indigenous grape variety–the Koshu. The Guardian piece gives ample credit to the Koshu, which is apparently inspiring domestic winemakers and connoisseurs when it comes to producing quality Japanese wine, something that has been something of a paradox in the past.

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Meanwhile, another piece just published in The Japan Times (‘Japanese wine: unadulterated and ready to go abroad’) covers the same topic, and I was particularly pleased to see a list of recommended wines in this one. I’m interested in the Rubaiyat Koshu Sur Lie 2007. Hailing from one of the oldest wineries in Japan, the selection is described as ‘dry, fresh and fruity’ and most importantly, made entirely of Koshu grapes. As long as it’s available for purchase outside of Japan, at about $15 a bottle too, it seems totally do-able, even after the holidays.

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