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Cheap wine sparkles in Japan

Publication Date : 11-07-2012


Upbeat sales of cheap wine and the beverage's growing presence at dinner tables in Japan have helped the volume of wine shipped in the nation rise for five consecutive years.

According to preliminary data on a taxation basis, 302,384 kilolitres of wine was shipped domestically in fiscal 2011, up 10.3 per cent from the previous year. This figure is all the more significant when considering that total liquor shipments slipped 0.2 per cent to about 8.94 million kilolitres that year.

Bottles of wine priced at 1,000 yen (US$13) or lower have been particularly popular. Wine companies have expanded their lineups with affordable wine produced in South America and nations such as Australia since around 2000.

The recent weakening of the euro against the yen has also spurred imports of cheap European wine such as from Spain.

To make it easier to drink wine at home, some companies sell wine in plastic bottles, which makes it easier to store any undrunk wine, and bottles with screw caps that are easier to open have also spread in recent years. This user-friendly packaging has aided wine sales.

"More than 70 per cent of wine sold is now consumed at home," an official of a major liquor company said.

According to Summit Inc., which operates the Summit Store supermarket chain, customers aged 50 and above tend to purchase beer while those under 40 are more inclined to buy wine. The number of people accustomed to washing down a meal at a restaurant with a glass of wine has been rising year after year. As a result, wine consumption at home also has increased.

With wine being consumed by a growing range of people, the popularity of midprice wine has grown. At stores run by wine retailer Vinos Yamazaki Co., sales of wine priced from 1,000 yen to below 4,000 yen have jumped in the past few years.

While cheap wine is the most common daily tipple, many people are also willing to splash out on something more expensive now and again.

"They like to have good stuff once in a while," a Vinos Yamazaki official said.


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