07/11/2007

Wine, whiskey・・.no songs

Last time I discussed one of my more intimate subjects- Beer- and today we move into the wine area.

Now let me be clear, I am no connoisseur and indeed do not even drink wine unless forced to do so at gunpoint, or more likely here in Japan, knifepoint. But the info I get is straight from the most dedicated Nihon wine guzzlers I know so fear not.

First, the bad news- Wine has only very recently become a popular drink here, maybe the last 2 or 3 decades, and the Japanese only produce a very small amount of Native vintage, mostly Whites, so your choices may be limited to what Imports are available and/or affordable. And unfortunately both availability and affordability will be a problem when compared to your own country's variety of selections/prices.

The good news in Kyoto- The Wine Grocery, located on Shijo just west of Horikawa (known otherwise as Shijo Omiya), a very quaint wine shop that offers a wide selection at a very wide range of prices suiting any or no budget. The staff are all serious wine lovers who are knowledgeable, friendly and most likely speak both English and French. Give it a shot if you want to enjoy a good bottle with your special someone.

And no, I don't work for or get paid by them. I'm just hip because I attended a couple of wine tasting events there that were fun, fun, FUN!
Sorry, the events have since been discontinued- maybe everyone was having a little too much fun- but the shop is still happening. OK・OK・ so sometimes I drink a little wine. Sue me.



Now on to a much more familiar subject- Whiskey!



The Japanese and Whiskey seem, to me, to have a strange relationship. While whiskey is certainly imbibed here, and at great quantities, especially but not exclusively by salarymen in nightclubs after work or when entertaining clients, their idea of Good Whiskey appears to vary greatly from my own. During these after work excursions the Natives tend to not be
very particular about the quality of the whiskey (which is most populalarly served omizuwari- with water) and onsequently quality does not seem to be a prerequisite for enjoyment. Bourbon also appears to be the favored whiskey choice for most J-drinkers and since I cannot abide by the stuff I may be a
prejudiced judge.

But to illustrate the force of the principle let me point out that in many, many drinking establishments here Jack Daniels (shudders) may be the Top Shelf option in Bourbon. Suffice to say that if that is the top, the bottom is not worth entioning.

Now onto the Good News- Native whiskeys are quite respectable and well worth choosing. Suntory makes a fine Special Reserve which, while slightly pricey, is well worth it- the taste is mellow, clean but full- and will satisfy. I've found Hokuto also very decent and most enjoyable, as well as affordable, either neat or on the rocks. The more reasonably priced
Japanese whiskeys (Tory, Nikko) are・well・..cheap and you might do best to avoid these brands unless you don't care what you're drinking.



And now the very Good News!



Walk into most well stocked liquor shops here and you will most likely find a veritable bonanza of FINE Whiskey at dirt cheap prices. Yes, because of Whiskey's relative lack of popularity here you can easily purchase the best of any Single Malt Irish (my personal fave) at prices that will rival or beat the best you could find at home. I've found and continue to find Jamesons (Irish chicken soup), Bushmills (aged 10 or 16 yrs. and Black Bush, mmmmmmmm.) and most of the finer Scotches at bargains that make me feel like I'm stealing.

If you're a Whiskey drinking man you will DEFINITELY be satisfied and then some so sit back, sip slowly and ENJOY!



Next up- Sake and the Current Heavyweight Champ!
posted by Billy at 17:01 | Food (contain ALCOHOL!)
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