Tokyo Jizake Strolling (wine from around the world)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Recently, the “World Liquor and Cheese Festival” was held at the Daimaru Tokyo department store connected directly to the Tokyo Station, one of the terminal stations representative of Japan. The admission fee was 3,000 JPY, the shopping voucher to make purchases within the venue.
This system implies to shoppers, “once inside the venue, you’ll miss out without taking advantage of this opportunity to shop” and “no free food samples are offered to passers-by.” At product fairs, people can usually stroll by and easily sample food and beverages for free. Therefore, lines of people before the samples with no intent to purchase keep away people with the intent to purchase in many cases. Also, as some people may still fear infection by the coronavirus, how this event was organized can prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In the future, this may be the way events should be organized at department stores.
This event organized for the 100th time was held over 6 days, 3 events/1 day. Participants had the option to purchase early bird tickets or same-day tickets. I attended the 2nd event on the final day, where I saw approximately 40 people lined up to purchase same-day tickets. I was handed a coaster made of cork as the shopping voucher and entered the venue.
Wine brands from around the world filled the venue, where each importer poured samples before the booth. The event titled “world liquor” mostly served wine, olive oil, and food samples to sell the products.
At this event, many Middle Eastern American and African American exhibitors were exhibiting products. Therefore, I was interested in sampling many food and beverage products to take home the products I found to be delicious. I started with classic Italian food samples, then sampled the French booth, Eastern Europe, Middle Eastern food from the Caucasus region, Africa to North America, South America, and Spanish food booths.
I discovered new food products from Moldova and Tunisia. I purchased white wine from Moldova and Tunisia, red wine from Italy, and 3 different types of cheese. After sampling many food and beverages, approximately 7,000 JPY is very economical for 2 people attending this event.
Also, I learned a lot from my conversations with sommeliers and sales associates of each importer. Competent sales associates who remembered the faces of guests interested in making a purchase from the nearly 100 people in attendance were surrounded by crowds to whom they sold products based on their knowledge, not promotion. On the other hand, sales representatives who appeared prideful were seemingly approached by a few guests. The stark difference between the two groups of sales professionals was evident. Recently, many events are held as restrictions are relaxed. I look forward to seeing various promotional food and beverage events resume as a ray of light that revives hope for the struggling food industry.