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When French culture meets Japanese culture through wine tasting

This October I had the great pleasure to facilitate a wine tasting event through practical exercises around senses development in a Japanese Art studio and Guest house located in Oiso, 1,5 hour from Tokyo in Japan. As a French person, passionate by food and wine, it was a great opportunity to share as “an ambassador of Europe”, our passion for gastronomy and wines. Indeed, in Europe, and particularly in France, we attach great importance to the way we appreciate taking time at the table and how we enjoy a glass of wine through our 5 senses. It is not only about drinking, it is also about sharing with people a moment of happiness, judging and commenting our apprehension of the wine, discussing about the region where the wine has been produced, imagining the landscapes where the vines have grown, telling about the weather conditions in this particular region, one major influencer on the aromas and flavours perceived by our palate.

French people do love testing and pairing wine and food.

All of this was shared during a special evening at “Epinard retreat Art studio” with local guests: we practiced a “mindful wine tasting”, discovering our senses and imagining the vineyards to feel emotions while tasting a white Chardonnay. To go deeper into these practical exercises, we closed our eyes and tasted the wine with the suppression of one sense to further develop the other ones. Indeed, it highlights even more some citrus aromas, reminding possibly some freshness in the wine region. Wine tasting is also about self-expression: everyone is invited to remember some flavours and aromas from their childhood, for example the cooking from the grandmother, some plants in the garden… Our brain is able to store each particular aroma and to recognize more than a thousand billion of different aromas! Then, we moved to the second part of the tasting which relies on food pairing. Here is the common ground between French and Japanese people: Japanese attach a major importance to food and cooking, as French people do. You will always see a large range of dishes set on a Japanese table with a variety of ingredients. Before eating, it must be nice to look at : the food must be well organised with a good-looking association of colours. Every detail matters because we start eating with our eyes…

What’s best with white wine like a crispy and citrusy Chardonnay? The local Japanese fish of course! We enjoyed fresh sashimi prepared by Ikuko and took afterwards a sip of Chardonnay. The meaty side and the fat of the fresh sashimi paired perfectly with the complex multi-layered aromas Chardonnay: there is a nice balance with the different flavours which creates a great harmony in our palate. We then tried an exercise with acidity through yuzu (a Japanese fruit close to lime). Acidity enhances the aromatic palate of a white wine, creating an explosion of floral and fruit flavours in the mouth. Also, Japan is well-known for the strong presence of umami in the traditional food. Umami, a scientific term recognized after a Japanese research in 1985, is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It can be described as savoury and intensifies the flavours. We can taste umami through taste receptors that typically respond to glutamates, which are widely present in food such as soups, gravies, shellfish, fish and fish sauces, tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauces… Mainly, Japanese ingredients! We tried the wine with the famous mushroom, Shiitake, and other umami… and the pairing was then amazing!

We ended our tasting by creating an exceptional and unique emotional experience to the guests through a virtual tour of some vineyards in France thanks to my French partners, Timothée and Aurélien. Together, we have launched a Virtual Reality 3D and 360° helmet with movies of the best wineries and distilleries. It is an opportunity for the wine taster to add another dimension to his/her tasting experience: the guest can project himself/herself directly at the property and visit the vineyards as if they were outdoor and also the winery and the cellar, and even meet the winemaker! All emotions have been raised, from the nose to the taste buds in the mouth, to some chemistry happening with the food pairing and up to the feelings during the virtual visit!

Alegato to all the participants and thank you to Epinard Art Studio for this opportunity!

Please do not hesitate to contact me further for any business seminar, team building and wine tasting around senses development.

or + 33 (0) 6 81 92 01 55

Visit Epinard Studio at : (Oiso, Japan)

Virtual Reality:

La Petite Nénette :

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