Japan’s wine world is once again gearing up for the biggest event of the year: Foodex Japan 2001, the massive annual international food and drinks event to be held March 13-16 in the sprawling halls of the Nippon Convention Center (Makuhari Messe). The 26th Foodex Japan will be the most spectacular one to date, with more than 27,000 sq. meters of hall space devoted to exhibitions by 2,460 companies (1,800 from overseas and 660 domestic).

Many of the 68 countries participating will exhibit their wines. So pronounced has the emphasis on wine become at this extraordinary event that it could just as well be called Winex. Like the international passion for wine itself, Foodex Japan has grown remarkably each year since its inception in 1976, becoming the premier event of its kind in both Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Among the highlights of Foodex Japan 2001 will be a number of wine seminars, including the free-of-charge World Wine Seminar 2001 (given only in Japanese). This will focus on compatible marriages of food and wine, along with presentations of regional wines. I hope the seminar will depart from Japanese television’s traditional obsession with pairing up wine only with such Western delicacies as foie gras, and will discuss which wines to drink with Japanese fare.

English as well as Japanese is used to present Foodex Japan’s several professional wine seminars. There is an impressive lineup, starting with opening-day seminars on French and Australian wine. On March 14, seminars will be given on the wines of Austria, Mexico (Baja California) and Hungary (styles not yet available in Japan). Australian wine seminars will be given March 15 and 16 (Australia is going all out), and on March 15 a Spanish wine seminar will address the timely subject of cava for Catalan and Japanese dishes.

Invariably, Foodex Japan’s wine seminars are well-presented and are opportunities to learn a great deal. Guest speakers this year include such top-flight wine experts as Philippe Sauzedde of Esprit Francais, Karl Hartleb of the Austrian Embassy, Dr. Victor Torres of the Mexican Winery Association, Hamish Baldwinson of BRL Hardy Wine Co. and Satoshi Yamamoto of Mikuni Marunouchi, the presenter for the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX). The seminar on cava, Spain’s prestigious traditional sparkling wine, is one to note.

Based on my recent trip to Spain, I’ll soon focus a column on the highly regarded Spanish wineries Bilbainas and Raimat, operated by the distinguished cava maker Codornia. Cava is a natural with many types of Japanese cuisine, and Codornia’s cava is one I recommend enthusiastically (as I do Catalonia itself, with its warm, welcoming and architecturally spectacular capital, Barcelona). In Wine Ways I hope to discuss some of Spain’s outstanding wine and discuss the country’s world-renowned winemakers.

Until then, enjoy yourself at Foodex. Cheers.

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