Sake Consumption Dips in Japan, Grows in the U.S.

20080805-sake.jpgSake is experiencing a serious decline in Japan these days. Thanks to a dietary shift from fish and rice towards meat and dairy, as well as a decision made in the 1980s by the country's tax agency to stop issuing new brewing licenses, the Japanese consume a third as much sake today as they did thirty years ago. Now they tend to opt for imported wine or a fiery local spirit called shochu.

Nonetheless, sake is undergoing a renaissance elsewhere, most notably the U.S. About a third of all sake exports go to the States, and even the finicky French are hopping on the rice wine craze. Sake brewers are hoping that Japanese consumers will soon take a cue from trendy drinkers in major cities such as London and New York, and return to their sake-drinking ways—for old times' sake.

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