Although historically, Eastern Asia’s wine production was limited to medicinal use, with the expansion of the West and cross-cultural relations, the area is developing into a major beverage industry.
China has been producing wines since about 2140BC, when wine production was completely alien to the western world. These wines, however, were originally cultivated for medicinal purposes and not social enjoyment.
Currently China is producing more and more wines through the use of western grape varieties such as the Pinot Noir and Merlot.
The following is a list of the major types of wine made in China today.
- P’u t’ao Chiu: This is a generic wine produced from grapes
- Chaosing: Wine produced from rice
- Chefoo: High alcohol content red and white wines
- Tsingtao : Red and white Sherry-like wines that are high in alcohol
- Meikuishanputaochu: A sweet Muscat-like wine from hybrids
- Great Wall: a fruity-flavoured wine made from the Loong Yan grape.
Just like Chinese wines, the first Japanese wines were only produced for the purposes of medicine. Modern wine making in Japan did not begin until the mid 19th century after Japan broke out of its long period of isolation.
Recently vineyards have spread throughout Japan, but are found mostly on the main island of Honshu. Japan’s best wines come from the slopes of Mt. Fujiyama on Honshu.
While most Japanese wines are not well known in western markets, Japan does produce for export a large amount of rice wine, or Sake, that is popular in the West.