Zeena is in Japan

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Monday June 13th, 2022

Now we can finally tell you: Zeena is in Japan! From Barcelona into the wide world! This is why this week we want to tell you a little more about Japanese culture and wine. 

 


Are you ready?

 

As you may know, wine is not a traditional Japanese drink, which is why it is sometimes a bit difficult to find a glass of wine (now we can finally find cans as well!). Its market share is small in comparison to other local alcoholic beverages or other more popular drinks such as beer. However, its popularity is increasing as the years go by.

 

One says that the Jesuit missionaries from Portugal introduced wine to Japan in the 16th century, but during the centuries that followed there is no sign of any wine making activity.

 

In the ancient Nihon-Shoki books, written in the 8th century, you can already find descriptions of what appears to be grapes, the koshu grapes, a typical Japanese grape variety, native to Europe, which is used to make today’s Japanese wines. It was introduced to Japan in the 7th century with the teachings of the Buddhists. Until the 14th century, grapes were only consumed as a fruit, as there was already the production of alcohol from rice, called sake, and they did not feel the need to produce another type of alcohol. 

 

If we travel back in time and go back four centuries, we see how after World War II Japan started picking up Western customs, which included a slow introduction of wine.

 

In the 90s low cost wines were beginning to become popular. It was called the “red white boom” with wines from Chile, Argentina and Australia. 

 

After the turn of the millennium, wine consumption became more and more popular, its expansion continued, especially in retail ( 80% of sales), but it also opened the doors for the catering sector.

 

Currently, despite the growth of wine consumption in Japan, its production is still very residual. Wines that are 100% produced in Japan are in the minority. The majority is produced from imported wines in bulk or imported must. The wine developed in Japan with the local materials is known as Nihon Wine and represents 13% of the total national production.

 

The national naming system is still quite vague and generic.

 

Until 2015, the wine was labeled as “Produced in Japan”, as long as it was fermented on the Japanese islands. These wines included those that were made from concentrated juice and imported musts. Since 2015 the legislation changed. Now there are two differentiations: 

 

  • National Wine (国産ワイン – vino kokusan ): which is the one known as wine produced in Japan, with imported raw materials (grapes, juice must)
  • Japanese wine (日本ワイン – vino nihon ) : wine produced in the Japanese territory, exclusively from grapes produced in Japan, 100% Japanese

 

​​Regional denominations do not exist yet. However, given the growing success, producer associations are working to establish wine interest areas.

The popularity has increased thanks to the incorporation of Spanish restaurants throughout the country, as well as different promotional activities that have been initiated from Spain to encourage Japan to consume wine.

According to ICEX, Japanese imports of still, sparkling and fortified wine reached a total volume of 256,155 kiloliters in 2020. Of this total, 85.9% were still wine, 13.8% sparkling wine and 0.2% fortified wine. These kiloliters were worth 166,251 million yen (1,364 million euros).

And now, thanks to Selesta, we are incorporating wine in cans, thanks to Zeena. As you may well know, Japan is the paradise of the can. An infinity of products are consumed in cans (they really know), and although we have not been the first wine in the 250ml format, we are in the 187ml format.

So now you know, if you are from Japan or are thinking of planning a trip there, enjoy your Zeena. Cheers!

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