French Sommeliers Taste Sake in Paris Contest


Paris, June 26 (Jiji Press)—Thirty-five professionals in the French restaurant industry, including top-flight sommeliers, gathered in Paris on Monday to taste sake from Japan.

The Kura Master contest was designed to choose Japanese sake brands suitable for the French market from among 550 entries. The contest took place for the first time in France, its organizer said. The results of the competition will be announced on July 11.

The event, organized by a committee led by Xavier Thuizat, chief sommelier at the Hôtel de Crillon in the French capital, was aimed at promoting sake internationally.

The jurors were divided into seven groups and tasted some 80 brands each. The top award winner will be served at the hotel, the committee said.

Thuizat fell in love with the traditional Japanese drink around three years ago, traveling to prefectures including Fukushima, Niigata, and Aichi to sample the labels produced there. “In cuisine, lighter dishes have gained popularity lately thanks to the health boom,” he notes. “This means more meals that pair nicely with sake rather than wine.”

Domestic consumption of sake in Japan has plateaued, and the nation’s sake brewers are looking to overseas markets for future growth. The event organizers expected around 200 brands to be entered in the Kura Master contest, but the number received far outstripped this level.

Yamada Toshiaki, an officer of the Sakebunka Institute, a sake promotion body in Tokyo, was involved in organizing the contest this year. “The jurors select their favorites based on a different set of values than those of Japanese drinkers,” says Yamada. “This makes the results valuable data to reflect in future sake brewing efforts.”

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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