Japanese wine is popular for its diversity. Variety of grapes such as Koshu and others are useful in the production of wine. These include American Vitis labrusca crossbreeds, indigenous Japan varieties and specialist wine varieties such as Chardonnay and Merlot. “Delicacy” is the taste characteristic of Japanese wine. Japanese cuisine and wine demonstrate an affinity when it comes to delicacy. It pairs well with sukiyaki, sushi or tempura.
Domestic wine production in Japan has a long history. It was started about 140 years ago with the establishment of the first wine company in the 1870s. Today there are 300 wineries in Japan. It is believed that vines have been cultivated for approximately 1000 years in Japan. Japanese wines of high quality have also received excellent ratings at international wine competitions.
The star is a Koshu grape that has been recognized by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine in the year 2013. The grape traveled along the silk route and present in its current home in Japan. Koshu grape is cultivated in the Yamanashi vineyards that are within the foothills of Mount Fuji for approximately 1000 years.
The following popular Japanese Wines are not only famous in its home but are known for their characteristic taste all across the globe.
1. Urakasumi Junmai “Misty Bay”
The wine with pale yellow sheen comes into the category of medium-dry. It has a soft smell of dried leaves and rice. The flavors depend on the temperature. It has a chocolate wisps flavor at room temperature and savory afterward. The chilled Junmai feels fruitier like soft pear and mellow mango. Subtle yet elusive this wine sits well on the palate with a well balanced, refreshing and clean taste.
2. ARUGA BRANCA CLAREZA
This dry wine uses Koshu grapes for its production by Sur Lie fermentation procedure. It is suitable for all western and Japanese meals. Wine and its lees remain in contact with each other in a tank. It is floral yet full of acidity. It has a mineral aftertaste with a steely soft acidic finish. This perfectly goes with Japanese condiments such as wasabi, miso and soy sauce.
3. Château Mercian Ensemble Aiakane
Chateau Mercian Ensemble Aiakane has balanced flavors along with the good level of spiciness. It has a red fruit flavor and suitable for a wide variety of food, from saba no miso ni (mackerel simmered in miso) to steak. The wine showcases the true talents of Mercian, which is in the production of wine in Japan for so long. This has been awarded eminent diplomas in various international wine competitions and has become the first Japanese wine to appear in worldwide famous wine magazine ‘Wine Spectator.’
4. Tsuno Chardonnay Estate
The latest Chardonnay has a sophisticated citrus flavor. If you seek richer taste then go for Tsuno Chardonnay Estate with a tropical flavor. The wine has a fantastic length on the palate with an acidic touch. The overriding length of acid is just delectable. Production takes place in a cool climate at the foothill of mount Kayagatake in southern Miyazaki.
5. Lumiére Sparkling Koshu
Lumiere Sparkling Koshu is a creamy and rich fizz with aromas of banana, lychee, mango, and vanilla. The wine is rich in minerals and a bit hollow on the mid palate. Fermentation of Koshu grapes produces foam that is useful in the production of this wine. The wine makes you enjoy the fine bubbles of texture and fresh aroma like Japanese citrus.
6. Otaru Niagara Sparkling
If you are fond of wine with bold flavor of grapes then this will not disappoint you. The strong fragrance of raw grapes attracts and makes it the best drink to satiate thirst. It has an overwhelming response from females due to their extraordinary flavor. The bursting fruity aroma and sweetness make it a perfect beverage for Christmas. The wine was awarded the 1st place in the popularity contest of the Japan Wine Matsuri Festival.
7. Izutsu Winery Sauvignon Blanc
This Japanese wine attracts for entirely different reasons than you think. It is bright, crisp and taut with bright citrus fruit. The drink is light and fresh with a nice grassy edge and some grapefruit. It has some elderflower notes as well. The wine is acidic and light.
8. SOPHOMORE KIMOTO JUNMAI DAIGINJO
It has the perfect balance of complex yet subtle notes of licorice, stone fruit, and mushroom. It has a creamy texture and uses the Kimoto method for brewing. The aroma is like gentle potpourri with the soft hints of rice. The soft and creamy entry into the mouth gives a deep density in the middle along with elegant aromas. This wine may age several years. It tastes best when served between the temperatures of 12-15 degree Celsius.
9. Suntory Tomi no Oka
The wine has a perfectly balanced sense of aroma the same as the white flowers and the rich citrus fruit. A sense of condensation along with pleasing butterscotch flavor obtained from cask fermentation makes it unique. It has extraordinary fruit flavor due to late picking grapes. Being dry, this has a mild acidity with moderate astringent plump taste.
10. Gekkeikan – Horin Sake
The wine is most hearty in flavor and style. It offers savory notes of sea salt, ripe apple fruit, and toasted nori. Fermentation at a low temperature gives a refreshing fruit aroma along with mild flavor. This is crafted from selected sake batches and offers notes of toasted almonds, anise, papaya, and lemon citrus.
Japan is popular for its sake or rice wine, Varieties with unique textures and taste are also produced here. The country has become one of the leading producers of wine all across the globe that uses its domestic grapes in its production.