01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

Japanese wine


Hi all

Been a bit quiet recently as we’re on the move around Japan. Hope everyone is well!

So far, aside from a very drinkable white from Hokkaido, this is the only wine we’ve tried

While in this case I feel akin to the Englishman who heads for the nearest McDonalds, it did go well with the local Kobe beef (which itself is wonderful)

Does anyone know much about Japanese wine and what to look out for? I’m all for trying a local product if I have the chance. So far it’s been all beer and sake!


Drink Sho-chu,

National spirit with massive local variations, basically distilled from whatever is around. Quality also varies massively so watch out!


Looks great, and you could do a lot worse than beer and sake I’m sure. I’ve no personal experience with Japanese wine but Jamie Goode has written up several wineries, mostly from Nagano. If you have a few mins you could scan these:




I have no experience of Japanese wine, but Andrew Jefford had written this lovely article about the Koshu grape which, apparently, is native to Japan. Or at least they haven’t managed to prove otherwise yet:

I’m sure you’ll come across a lot of Koshu - and I’m not sure how to tell which one is good and which one isn’t; but in the 2019 DWWA one won the Platinum award, from Suntory wines (in case you come across it). Here are the notes:


Have fun! :grin: :clinking_glasses:


Koshu is a nice grape variety, delicate and slightly floral, good with all the amazing Japanese seafood. A little expensive for me to drink in the UK. The Grace Winery Koshu is good:

I’ve read that there is some good Pinot Noir in Hokkaido. Japan isn’t an easy place to grow wine though. Try some premium Sake as its hard to get in the UK, the stuff you can get is very poor here,


Koshu, as a native grape, must be the way to go. Agree with Nick in that they’re not really competitively priced over here. Obviously growing wine grapes in a climate as difficult as that of Japan is quite a heroic undertaking.


I’ve been to a Koshu wine tasting and in 2015 from my local M&S I bought 2013 Kurambon Koshu Sol Lucet (Japan, Chūbu, Yamanashi, Katsunuma).

On all occasions I found Koshu rather neutral, or perhaps it is too subtle for me :slight_smile:


Thanks all, appreciate the advice. Observations so far are that it’s quite tricky to find Japanese wine, despite there being a fair few wine bars. You get some funny looks when you ask to try something local :rofl:

We tried Shochu. Think it was a drinkable rather than delicious version. I’ve also seen it with a range of mixer options

Found a bit of a craft beer scene as well, although it is universally quite strong and very expensive. Sipping stuff for sure!

Sake has generally been good but no idea how to choose a good one so experiences have been mixed. Seeking out a tasting so we have a better idea of what we like and don’t like :slight_smile:


I’ve been to quite a few Koshu/Wines of Japan tastings over the last year and agree that it’s a lovely variety. One of its main plus points is that it has naturally thick skins and is disease resistant (especially against rot which is prevalent in humid areas like Japan). The best examples come from Yamanashi and the Grace Private Reserve & Tomi no Oka are the best I’ve tried. Most are light, low in alcohol and a touch floral (some even have a hint of soy/umami to them) but at a likely price of £20+ there is better value to be found with Muscadet or even new world Semillon. However it is certainly a grape to keep an eye out for.

Etienne de Montille has purchased a large plot on Hokkaido (north Island) and has planted (unsurprisingly) pinot and chardonnay so will be interesting to see what he comes up with and if more producers look to Japan for their next project.



I’d suggest follow Jamie Goode on social media or his website - he’s done some visits out there and may give you a good insight

Enjoy Japan…and the rugby !


if you are into whisky, give this a listen to:

the Food Programme - Japanese Whisky: a beginners guide https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b0b2gym3


Don’t drink the mixer versions of shochu predominantly filth on a par or worse with the alcohols of UK in the 90s!