Business

Food & Drink

Drinking games— Napa Valley

Preface

Asia remains thirsty for western wines and in California there’s an unlikely vineyard owner making the most of the boom: computer game mogul Kenzo Tsujimoto. Overleaf we look at more food and drink trends for 2011 and beyond.

Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne, David Abreu, Enoteca, Fantesca, Heidi Barrett, Howard Backen, Kenzo Tsujimoto, Reiko Kawamura, Screaming Eagle

California may still export nearly a billion dollars worth of wine each year but the state’s international wine business was hit hard by the global recession. Sales to key markets such as the EU slid more than 20 per cent in 2009, while exports to Canada – California’s second-largest customer – were down more than 7 per cent.

Yet, while economic uncertainty may prevail in the West, California wines are finding new consumers across Asia. Indeed, just as exports to mature markets were faltering, wine fans in Japan, Hong Kong and especially mainland…

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.

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