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Melinda Joe

Melinda Joe is an American journalist in Tokyo. A certified wine and sake professional, she writes about Japanese drinks in her Kanpai Culture column for The Japan Times and blogs at

For Melinda Joe's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Japanese wine is no longer a novelty

| Sep 9, 2016

Japanese wine is no longer a novelty

Five years ago, Japanese wine was still considered a novelty, and finding it in Tokyo required a fair amount of searching. These days, most shops carry at least a few varieties and some have entire shelves dedicated to domestic wine. Popular magazines now run ...

Japanese chefs defy expectations across Asia

Sep 2, 2016

Japanese chefs defy expectations across Asia

The rainbow trout confit at Mezzaluna, an acclaimed fine-dining restaurant in Bangkok that overlooks the city from the top of the 65-story Lebua State Tower, is an impeccable example of contemporary French cuisine. As is the luxurious foie gras flan, which lies beneath a ...

Distilling the mysteries of 'shōchū'

| Jun 10, 2016

Distilling the mysteries of 'shōchū'

From my seat on the second floor of Shochu Zanmai, a bar specializing in Japan’s indigenous distilled liquor, I can see directly into the building across the street. The bar is located down a narrow alley a 10-minute walk from Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Station, and ...