Once we heard about matcha white wine from Kyoto, we knew we had to try it for ourselves.
Recently, we found out about a selection of matcha green tea-based alcoholic beverages from Kyoto-based tea company Itokyuemon, so the next time we found ourselves feeling thirsty, we decided to order one and taste-test it. If we’re being honest, we would have liked to have drunk every single product in the lineup, but even for us there’s a limit to how much our bosses will let us drink on the job, so we decided to go with just the most intriguing option: matcha white wine.
Called Yokan no Midori, the wine ships in a box that, like the beverage itself, mixes Eastern and Western sensibilities. One side is emblazoned with French text reading “Vin au thé vert,” meaning “Green Tea Wine,” while the other bears the Itokyuemon name rendered in Japanese calligraphy brush strokes.
We took the bottle out of the box, and the wine’s special ingredient was immediately apparent, as the liquid is the deep, green color of matcha. It even has the same opaque quality as the high-class tea.
Make no mistake, though. This is wine, as evidenced by the label’s description of it as a collaborative effort from Itokyuemon and Kyoto winemaker Tamba Wine. There’s also a line stating the drink’s alcohol content of 12 percent, just about the same as what a typical non-matcha wine’s would be.
We poured ourselves a glass, and out of the bottle, the wine looks even more like pure green tea. As a matter of fact, its color is brighter than we’d envisioned from Yokan no Midori’s name, which means “Midnight Green.”
But surprisingly, even though Yokan no Midori looks just like matcha, it tastes almost entirely like white wine.
Fruity and sweet, Yokan no Midori’s flavor is so different from what its appearance leads you to expect that the first sip is actually a little confusing. But what it lacks in drama it makes up for in tastiness, as it’s a perfectly enjoyable white wine, and as we took another taste, we could indeed notice some of the pleasing bitterness of the matcha, albeit in a very slight measure.
Itokyuemon recommends pairing Yokan no Midori with fish or vegetable dishes, but its fruity notes had us instead craving some cheese of fruit to go along with it. If any of those combinations sound appealing to you, the unique matcha white wine can be ordered through Itokyuemon’s online shop in both 300-mililiter (10.1-ounce) and 500-mililiter bottles, priced at 1,296 (11.50) and 1,944 yen respectively, here and here.
[ Read in Japanese ]