Melinda Joe: "Japanese wine is gaining traction in Tokyo"

Melinda Joe.
Andreas Grube
Published 30-May-2024
Interview / Tokyo

Today our ambassador in Tokyo, wine and food journalist Melinda Joe, is adding three new Red Stars to our guide to the best wine bars and wine restaurants in the city.

"Wine tastes are following a trend toward lighter cuisine, with consumers favouring crisp whites and lighter, more food-friendly reds. Sparkling remains ever-popular: Despite rising prices of champagne, Japan saw a 20% increase in imports. At the same time, restaurants are expanding their sparkling offerings to include regions such as the UK," Melinda says about what has been happening on the Tokyo wine scene lately.

The most exciting developments recently?<
"Japanese wine is gaining traction in Tokyo, with more representation on wine lists and retail shelves. Beyond the main production areas of Yamanashi and Nagano, there's great wine coming out of Hokkaido and even places like Toyama. Though too soon to be described as a trend, there are even some wines being produced in Tokyo."

What styles/regions etc are most in demand?
"At restaurants, a few regions that appear to be trending are Hokkaido, Jura, and Langhe. The demand for Burgundy is still high, but price hikes have led consumers to look farther afield - in particular Pfalz and Baden in Germany, Piedmont in Italy, Walker Bay in South Africa, Victoria in Australia, and Oregon in the US."

What are the new Red Stars adding to the scene?
"Greater diversity globally, and depth within beloved regions."

Anything you want to add?
"Although people have been predicting the end of the natural wine boom for years, the trend shows no signs of fading. This year, the Raw Wine Tokyo festival saw a strong turnout, reflecting the increasing sophistication of Japanese natural wine drinkers."

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