The recession continues to affect the Japanese wine market in interesting ways. As we have noted in our pages earlier this year, cheap wine is apparently quite tasty in tough times, and now it seems the market for low-rent sommeliers will increase. One indication is that 7-11 wants in on the action. Starting this month, both American and Japanese 7-11 outlets will be selling their own lines of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon under the Yosemite Road label. At around ¥600 a bottle, that’s hard to beat.
Even Ginza, home to much of Japan’s luxury industry and a competitive wine-bar market, has seen a new cost-cutting measure. The wine bar GOSS, near the flagship Matsuya Department store in the heart of the shopping district, has installed wine vending machines as a way to cut down on labor costs and still provide premium vino to their patrons.
This is all happening just as the first bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau arrive in Japan. With French imports dropping an estimated 30% from 2008, 7-11 is betting that convenience truly is the ultimate luxury.