08/05/2019 – News / Beverages / Event / Tokyo / Wine & Gourmet Japan
10th edition of Wine & Gourmet Japan makes big impact at Tokyo Big Sight
After three successful trade fair days in Tokyo, the 10th edition of Wine & Gourmet Japan came to an end on 19th April, having showcased a wide diversity of products and an impressive international line-up.
Over 78,000 trade visitors from across Japan, eastern Asia, South East Asia, Oceania and beyond – encompassing importers, wholesalers, retailers, hotels and restaurants, manufacturers and professionals from the wine, spirits and food service market – gathered over the three days for Japan's leading trade fair for wine, beer, spirits, bar and gourmet food products.
International exhibitors from across the globe – including Australia, Belgium, China, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Montenegro, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and the USA – showcased their best, with seven country pavilions including Australia and a new regional group participation from Burgos Alimenta, Spain.
Georgian wine in the limelight
Georgia was in the limelight this year as the partner country to Wine & Gourmet Japan 2019, with buyers encouraged to sample an array of Eurasian delights – such as Château Mukhrani – that have had only relatively limited exposure in the Japanese market to date.
Ms. Elene Kiknadze, Marketing Manager at the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia’s National Wine Agency, remarked: “Japan is one of Georgia’s strategic markets, where we are trying to establish our brand in the premium segment, as the diversity of styles of the Georgian wines allows it. So, we have been promoting our unique wines in Japan for over five years now, and Wine & Gourmet Japan in Tokyo is one of the key platforms for our wines to be showcased.”
Ms. Kiknadze continued that Georgia’s National Wine Agency valued the exhibition as it enabled the association’s producers to find their ‘long-term trade partners’ – something that she said was absolutely crucial to the Agency’s development. “By making the most of this platform, we are confident that Georgian wine will gradually find its way into the minds of Japanese consumers and become one of their most wanted and beloved wines.”
Wines of the world
Germany also proved to be a prominent presence at the event, with exhibitors keen to demonstrate to Japanese retailers a new breed of German winemaker – one that has advanced beyond the sweet wines of yore. One such example is the award-winning Kühling-Gillot – from Bodenheim in the Rheinhessen region. Vineyard owner Carolin Gillot is one of the first notable female winemakers in the famous winemaking region, and graduated from the famous wine-university of Geisenheim, while her husband, Hans Oliver Spanier, is a radical winemaker from the winery Battenfeld-Spanier
Spanish, Italian, Australian and natural wine (that is, wine made with minimal chemical and technological intervention) were also well represented at the recently concluded event.
Smaller stands introduced winemakers from Tunisia – where the 2,000-year-old industry is now making a comeback – alongside interesting tipples from Belgium and Portugal.
Demand for Japanese wine on the rise
Some of the most interesting stands at the show could be found in the Japanese pavilion, which amply displayed the growing diversity of the country’s winemaking activities.
It is true that Japan is still undoubtedly unfamiliar territory for many when it comes to wine, although with huge improvements in quality, and a new export mentality and support, now is clearly an exciting time for Japanese wine. In fact, there are a surprisingly wide range of wine grape varieties grown in Japan today, including European classics in optimal spots and hardy hybrids that can cope with the harsh winters.
Nonetheless, two varieties stand out for their particular association with Japan, in terms of origin and style. Firstly, the Muscat Bailey A – this reliable, disease-resistant variety, previously consigned to the “easy-drinking” category, has recently been taken more seriously, as several producers have demonstrated success with low-yielding versions on prime sites, resulting in depth and flair that is not a million miles away from a Beaujolais Cru. The second major variety strongly associated with Japanese winemaking is the thick-skinned, pink Koshu grape. With fresh-but-rounded acidity, and several aromatic compounds in common with Sauvignon Blanc, this is becoming an increasingly appealing variety to discerning wine-buyers and sommeliers.
Matchmaking and wine-matching
Returning to Wine & Gourmet Japan this year, the supporting programme of matchmaking seminars for international wineries and local importers and distributors was yet again deemed to be a success by attendees. The professional seminars were once more organised by Koelnmesse, featuring prominent lecturer Ms. Junko Tominaga, who holds WSET Level 4 Diploma.
Meanwhile, the show’s wine appreciation programmes – organised by Wine Kingdom – provided wine-matching tips and advice to a highly targeted group of buyers from the Japanese bars, restaurants and hospitality sector, focusing on the pairings of international wines and Japanese cuisines.
Gourmet highlights and strengthening trends
Together with its partner trade fairs – FABEX, Dessert Sweets & Bakery Festival, PB-OEM, Premium Food Shows (including organic and halal sectors), Japan Meat Industry Fair, and Noodle Industry Fair – there were a total of 917 exhibitors from over 20 countries worldwide. Wine & Gourmet featured 149 exhibitors from 19 countries, with 58 per cent of participating companies hailing from overseas.
Aside from the many interesting wine innovations at the recent show, there were plenty of gourmet novelties on display at the co-located events. These included mozzarella from Buffalo Park Langkawi, located at the remote and scenic end of Padang Matsirat – the only place in the whole of Malaysia where the cheese is available and freshly made. Another interesting product on display was a pomegranate-flavoured balsamic vinegar from Greece.
A key trend on the gourmet food side was the rise in prominence of Halal foods across the exhibition floorspace – a trend only set to strengthen, given the growing numbers of tourists visiting Japan, and the fact that the global halal foods industry is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.1 per cent from 2016–2015, to reach US$739.59 billion by 2025, according to a recent report by Grand View Research, Inc.
At the Noodles Industry Fair in the adjacent hall, many visitors queued for free Yebisu beer. While the long line demonstrated the popularity of Yebisu (one of Japan’s leading premium beer brands), the country’s domestic beer market more broadly finds itself in the doldrums at present, with beer sales falling as revenues for wine and spirits continue to grow – and that trend echoes the global picture today.
Wine & Gourmet Japan will return to Tokyo Big Sight from 15–17 April 2020. For more information, visit; www.wineandgourmetjapan.com