Japanese Winery Experience

Do you know the different of Japanese Wine and Sake? Sake is a traditional fermented rice beverage in Japan that contains alcohol. On the other hand, wine is an internationally well-known alcoholic drink made from fermented grapes or other types of fruit. Fans of alcoholic beverages may be interested to know more differences between the two drinks.

The different of Sake & Japanese Wine

There are many types of wine that are more valuable the longer they are aged, as the taste is believed to improve over time. In contrast, sake is generally meant to be drunk sooner than wine. Sake is best drunk within one year, as it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a year without a change in quality. There may be some sake that is deliberately aged but it is an exception.

Sake, which has a taste that will quickly disappear after it leaves the mouth, is regarded as a desirable characteristic. Thus, high-quality sake is expected to not leave an aftertaste in the mouth. On the flip side, a long finish is a sought-after quality in wine.

Umami is one of the key flavors in sake. Umami refers to savoriness, and glutamic acid is an amino acid that is linked to the taste of umami. As sake contains higher amounts of amino acids than wine, sake has more umami taste than wine.

Typically, sake contains higher alcohol content compared to wine. This is because the process of making wine involves the use of a high concentration of sugar at the beginning which inhibits alcohol production by yeast. However, for sake, the amount of sugar is kept to a minimum at the start so the fermentation process proceeds without much inhibition of the alcohol production by yeast.

In wine tasting, a tulip-shaped wine glass is used. The taster will begin by smelling the aroma directly from the glass, and then the wine will be swirled which causes contact with air, after which the taster will smell again. For sake tasting, a kikichoko cup is used and swirling is not included in the steps of sake tasting. This suggests that for sake, the retronasal smell is more essential than the orthonasal smell.

Japanese Wine History

Although viticulture and the cultivation of grapes for table consumption has a long history in Japan, domestic wine production using locally produced grapes only really began with the adoption of Western culture during the Meiji restoration in the second half of the 19th century.

According to data from Japan’s National Tax Agency for 2017, approximately 382,000 kiloliters of wine was purchased in Japan, of which two-thirds was imported wine. Of the 102,000 kiloliters of wine domestically produced that year, only a fifth came from domestically grown and harvested grapes. The Agency states the share of Japanese wine, as defined as domestically produced wine from domestically grown grapes, as only 4% of total domestic consumption, or 14,988 kiloliters. Only 58 kiloliters of Japanese wine was exported overseas.

The main region for winemaking in Japan is in Yamanashi Prefecture which accounts for approximately a third of domestic production,[1] although grapes are cultivated and wine is also produced in more limited quantities by vintners throughout the country, from Hokkaido in the North to Miyazaki Prefecture on the Southern island of Kyushu.

The town of Katsunuma in the Kofu basin is an important center of Japanese wine making, being the birthplace of the Japanese wine industry. Today the area remains the top producer of wines that are made using only Japanese grapes, and it is a popular tourist destination with a large concentration of wineries at which visitors can buy, taste and learn about many aspects of Japanese wine.

The region’s wineries range widely in what they offer visitors. Many operate shops that sell the winery’s products and offer wine tasting, while a few also conduct tours of the winery or offer workshops about the different aspects of wine.

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