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Locals introduced to sake at ‘ProWein goes city’ events

The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association ventured beyond Messe Düsseldorf with consumer events under the ‘Prowein goes city’ banner.

Visiting sake producers served local guests (photo credit: Taisei Iwamoto)

The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association attended ProWein in Düsseldorf earlier in March, building on a series of visits to the trade show that go back to 2018. The delegation, consisting of 18 sake breweries and two honkaku shochu distilleries, took part in a series of tastings and events over the course of the three day fair. However, they also brought sake to ‘ProWein Goes City’, a selection of events after trade hours intended for both fair visitors and local consumers.

Düsseldorf is an ideal location for the project, as a notably cosmopolitan city. It is home to around 6,000 Japanese residents and 200 Japanese businesses. There is therefore a natural synergy with sake, and plenty of potential in its local market.

The events directly involved 12 of the visiting breweries, and targeted three separate modes of consumption. For two days, upscale Japanese restaurants in the city served exclusive menus paired with high quality sake. In a group of more casual establishments, sakes were paired with signature snacks over the course of seven days. As the final element, sampling and promotions took place at a high end supermarket.

The producers found particular success in the casual dining establishments. These five locations, spread down the Japanese quarter at Immermanstrasse, each served a set menu with two different sakes and signature appetisers.

To add an incentive to the activity, these menus were treated as a stamp rally. Consumers, especially younger drinkers who may not know sake, were encouraged to collect stamps from multiple participating locations. Receiving three stamps won them a complimentary traditional sake cup.

Branded sake cups were available to participants.

The series was made even more special by the attendance of sake producers and Miss Sake Japan on the first night. They were on hand to speak with customers, recommend menus and serve sake, all of which helped increase sales. Some customers even purchased further sake after their set menu.

The JSS believes the events were an ideal way to promote sake in Germany’s restaurant scene, and in Europe more generally. It sees the pairing events as a springboard to prove that sake is compatible with a variety of cuisines.

In particular the JSS understands that putting a range of sakes, including Junmai Ginjo, Nigori (cloudy sakes), and sake liqueurs, in front of customers is key to dispelling misconceptions. Allowing consumers to taste them proves that sake is not a highly alcoholic, inaccessible drink, and shows there is a style for any occasion. By presenting it in these casual settings, the JSS is sure that sake will be adopted in more and more dining scenarios.

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