Men have dominated the Japanese wine industry since it’s inception.

Women’s Japanese Wine Awards dp (1)

In fact, this is one reason Mrs. Yumi Tanabe established the awards also known as SAKURA in 2013.

Japanese Wine Competitions

Aside from increasing the number of women working in the Japanese wine industry, the wine competition aims to;

  • Avail in the market wine compatible with Japanese cuisine
  • Expand the Japanese wine market and increase the annual consumption of wine in Japan
  • Increase opportunities for women to work in the Japanese wine industry

Sakura is one of the most prestigious international wine competitions in Japan and the Asian continent. Also, it is the largest wine competition in the country judged by professional women in the Japanese wine industry. And, it’s the 2nd world wine competition judged by women, after the France Femibalise Awards.

Wine Awards

The organizers of the Japan women’s wine awards competition select a panel of new judges every year. However, Mrs. Yumi Tanabe remains the head of the judges. Also, during the event, besides the other judges, there are special judges in the panel. For example, in 2018, the special judges were Yukino Kikuma {a wine expert certified by the Japan Sommelier Association (JSA)} and, the actress Hitomi Takahashi.

The panel of judges includes wine experts in Japan with a wide range of wine knowledge and experiences. They include wine buyers, sommeliers and wine journalists selected from a list of over 300 women in the industry. In fact, the 2018 awards had 510 judges who blind tasted and judged the 4,342 submitted wines.

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For example, in 2017 the best pairing wine for Asian food award went to the Sanmartino Prosecco Treviso Millesimato Extra Dry, 2015.

The competition has four medals for the awards, including Diamond Trophy, Double Gold, Gold, and Silver. The judges base the awards on a points system of 1 -100.

Double gold award winners form the pool which judges select an exceptional wine to receive the Diamond Trophy. The Bodega Norton Gernot Langes, 2012 won the trophy in 2017. The full-bodied ruby red wine has a great nose, with rich aromas of dark plum and blackberry. It has a sumptuous palate with a notable concentration of fruit that leads to a complex, spicy finish. It’s an excellent accompaniment to venison and beef.

Wines with 93–100 points receive the Double Gold award. In 2017, the award went to the Paul Mas Vignes de Nicole Chardonnay – Viognier Pays d’Oc, 2015. This elegant, golden wine with green hues has an aroma of exotic fruits and vanilla. The palate is velvety, fruity with mineral notes and a long finish. It’s a delicious wine and a great accompaniment to seafood.

Judges award Gold Awards to wines with 88-92 points and Silver Awards to wines with 83 -87 points. Besides the above awards, the competition also gives Special awards. For example, in 2017 the best pairing wine for Asian food award went to the Sanmartino Prosecco Treviso Millesimato Extra Dry, 2015. Not only did the wine receive a double gold at the awards, but also it received the best pairing wine for JAPANESE Pot-au-feu. The sparkling fresh and youthful wine has a bright straw yellow color when poured. And, it has an elegant nose with notes of orchard and citrus fruits, with a creamy, fruity palate and a bubbly finish.

Special Awards

Another special award is the Best Women Winemaker. For this award, the judges pick the best wine produced by a woman winemaker. In 2017, the judges picked the Celler Ronadelles Vins I Llegendes, 2012. A fresh and light red wine with a juicy palate of wild berry and black currant flavors. The nose has a sweet, fruity perfume with earthy shades in the background. Its light tannins and aromatic finish make it an excellent wine to pair with fat or smoked cheeses.

Wineries that win the Sakura awards get various benefits including;

  • A one-year visual data of the medal logo free and wineries can opt to buy a printed medal sticker
  • Free advertising since the organizers exhibit the winning wines, at the main gate of FOODEX Japan, the largest food and wine fair in Japan. Also, the competition organizers list the wines in the official book distributed at FOODEX Japan and various retail stores. And, Sakura website has the all the details of the wines, which is accessible to all people in the world.

Upcoming Japan Women’s Wine Awards

The entry period for the next awards will run from 01st October to 30th November 2018. All wines should arrive at the Sakura wine awards office by January 11th, 2019. Consequently, the tasting competition takes place between  29th – 31st January 2019. The announcement of winners on the Sakura website will be 14th Feb. 2019. And, on 05th March 2019, there will be a ceremony to announce the Diamond Trophy and Special award winners at the FOODEX Japan 2019.