Japan pops its cork
The Brits top every league table when it comes to Champagne quaffing, but Japan is rising through the ranks, now rating as fourth in the world for imports of Champagne (behind the UK, US and Germany). Not bad for a country of beer, whisky and sake drinkers.
Reiko Kawamura is Japan’s delegate to the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne, the organisation that safeguards the production and distribution of Champagne. She has noticed changes in consumption patterns in Japan. “The image of Champagne is premium and in the past the main demand was for celebrations such as weddings, or as a gift,” she says. “However, many people are now enjoying it as a ‘petit luxe’ – a small luxury in their daily lives. Drinking Champagne with Japanese food is also more popular because more restaurants are serving it by the glass.”
At the upscale Tokyo wine shop Enoteca, which sells 11 brands of fizz, they’re noticing that Japanese Champagne drinkers are becoming more discerning. “Popularity is shifting from brands you can buy at any shop to those with a more distinctive flavour,” says Enoteca’s PR spokeswoman Ai Masuda.