The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2016

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Page 54 of 100

ASIA T he Mutual Trading Company's Japanese Food & Restaurant Expo has been a destination for Japanese food service, restaurateurs and retailers since 1988, introducing on- and off-premise buyers to a prolific assort- ment of food samples, beverage tastings and other innovative products. The 2016 edition of Mutual Trading's annual marketplace at the Pasadena Convention Center fell on October 1, World Saké Day. The theme? According to guest seminar speaker and Master Sommelier Bob Bath, saké is "happen- ing in America" and extending its welcome far beyond Japanese restaurants. He added that Millennials are the future of saké. "At 83 million, they represent a dynamic part of the marketplace," assessed Bath, also a Professor of Wine & Beverage studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. "Their presence in the market is something we have to acknowledge. Do you want to change the opinions of Baby Boomers raised with saké's old image (i.e., average quality sakés served heated), or do you want to reach out to a generation looking to discover something new?" The saké, wine and spirits hall presented a visual context for Bath's assessment. There was an astonishing selection of saké expressions—from flavored, sparkling and nigori brews by Dassai and Amabuki, appealing to the Millennials, to category-refining aged and craft sakés. Saké Master Brewer Atsuhide Kato pointed out award-winning Born Gold Junmai Daiginjo was embraced by President Obama during his trip to Japan during the recent G-7 Summit. Katsuyama, which debuted in the U.S. market, showcased their presentation-boxed luxury J Junmai Daiginjo sakés. Atsuko Kanai, Mutual Trading Vice President, hopes these top tier products will attract seasoned imbibers. "We cover a great majority of Japanese restau- rant and food service businesses in America. What we're looking to do now is get American wine drinkers to start looking at saké in a fresh way," she said, pointing out the selection at the show represented the top sakés currently being made in Japan. "We find demand is healthy, and the market splitting in two: Bargain brands and premium/ultra premium luxury brands are appeal- ing to [consumers] wanting something rare and with a story behind them." The wine world holds a lot of untapped potential for expanded saké sales, provided the wonders of saké can be translated into a context that will open minds, shelves and presentation space. World Saké Day presents the perfect opportunity to break down barriers between the beverage and consumers and buyers, and allows them to learn and try new things. Happy Nihonshu no Hi,* America! THE 2016 JAPANESE FOOD & RESTAURANT EXPO PROVIDED PRODUCERS THE PERFECT OCCASION TO CELEBRATE SAKÉ'S FUTURE IN AMERICA ON "WORLD SAKÉ DAY"* story and photos by Elyse Glickman Yumi Ohira and her assistant sample Dassai's newest products. Eleventh-generation Katoukichibee Shouten brewery owner Atsuhide Kato and his assistant show off their award- winning portfolio. 54  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2016 Katsuyama brewery Marketing Director Euka Isawa rolls out products new to the U.S. in style.

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