Umami of Wine: Japanese Palate and the appreciation of Food and Wine flavours
Asian Directions—Palate & Perception UMAMI of WineJapanese Palate Related toWine and Japanese Food Michikatsu Sato Lifelong Wine Education Program, The Institute of Enology and Viticulture University of Yamanashi
Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and UMAMI.What is UMAMI? Dr. Kikunae Ikeda found it in1908. Threshold (mg/L)Amino acids: Glu/Na (MSG) 300←kombu (tangle weed) Asp/Na 1000Nucleic acids: Umami enhancer with MSG Inosine monophosphate (IMP)←katsuobushi (dried bonito) Guanosine monophosphate (GMP)←shiitakemushroomOrganic acid: Succinate is the umami derived from shellfish.In Japanese cuisine, dashi (soup stock) gives a very pure umami tastesensation because it’s not based on meats. In dashi, L-glutamatecomes from kombu (tangle weed, Laminaria japonica) and inosinatefrom dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi) or small dried sardines (niboshi).Soy sauce also contains MSG and sodium aspartate. ⇓Japanese are relatively sensitive to Umami compared with Europeans. (Palate: the sensation of wine in the mouth)
Features of Japanese FoodJapanese cuisine has many varieties, but the basictaste is formed by the dashi, soy sauce, and miso(fermented soybean curd).Japanese enjoys food as the material itself with asubtle amount of seasoning such as soy sauce. So,Japanese tends to have high sensitivity to the umamitaste. ⇓Japanese traditional cuisine is based onthe UMAMI, and Japanese prefers adelicate taste with appropriate UMAMInot by just only MSG.
Tax Quantity of Domestic and Imported Wine in Japan （×1000 kL) 300 250 200 I ported m 150 D om esti c 100 50 0 1979 1984 1989 1994 1999 2004 2007 2008 2009 Wine consumption in Japan is gradually increasing in these 3 years and they drink wine by 2.3 L/capita. In Japan, wine became popular from 1997～1999 of the red wine boom.
What is the UMAMI of Wine?Red wine contains 26 – 54 mg/L of Glutamic acid,and total amino acids, 395 – 1050 mg/L. (P. Lehtonen, 1996)White wine contains 10 – 20 mg/L of Glutamic acid (M. Sato,1994), and total amino acids would be 500 to 1000 mg/L. ⇓As the threshold of MSG is 300 mg/L, the glutamic acidalone does not contribute to the UMAMI of wine.The palate may relate to UMAMI, and the balance ofamino acids and organic acids such as malate, tartratewould be contributing to the UMAMI of white wine. Otherthan that, phenolics (anthocyanins and tannins) andlactate would contribute to the UMAMI of red wine. (Agingmay increase the UMAMI in Sur Lie wine and red wine.)Umami is close to savory (flavor rich and good taste).
In Japan, there are Japanspecific grape varieties.Wines from the varieties show a goodpairing of their delicate taste withJapanese dishesThose are,Koshu and Muscat Bailey A
What is Koshu? There are two folk stories on the Koshu grapes: 1. Daizenji Temple legend: A famous Budhist monk, Gyoki, brought the grapes to Katsunuma, Koshu, Yamanashi Pref. in 718. 2. Kageyu Amemia legend: Amemiya who lived in Katsunuma started to grow Koshu grapes in 1186. Dr. Nami Goto-Yamamoto genetically analyzed the origin, and found that the Koshu grape is Vitis vinifera, and it is a kind of oriental varieties.The Koshu grape is indigenously grown in Japan andhas been traditionally cultured as table grapes in the KoshuKatsunuma region, located 100 km west of Tokyo.Although Koshu has existed since the 8th Century, the [Development of grape microsatellite markersgrape variety didn’t gain popularity until the Edo Era and microsatellite analysis including oriental(1600-1867), when grapes were considered a delicacy cultivars. N. Goto-Yamamoto, H. Mouri, M. Azumi, and K.J. Edwards. Am. J. Enol. Vitic.for the Tokugawa Shogunate. 57, 105-108 (2006)]
Traits of KoshuThe grape cluster is a littlelong, the size of berry ismedium, and the color ofskins are wisteria violet orreddish brown. The ripengrapes are sweet (16 to 19ºBrix), a little sour, and goodas a table grape.As the grape has not aspecial aroma, Koshu winehas a relatively flat tastewithout special characters,but it has very goodmatching with Japanesedishes.
Koshu grapes ripe slowly 25 25 リ Riesling ースリ ング Chardonnay シャルド ネ 甲州Koshu Sauvignon blanc ソービニヨ ブラン blanc Sauvignon ン・ 20 20 Semillon セミ ン ヨ Chardonnay SemillonBrix 15 15 Riesling x B ri Koshu 10 10 Late harvest resulted in grapes with low amino acids and low aroma precursors 5 Grapes were grown in 2006 at the experimental vineyard of Univ. Yamanashi 0 7/2 7/22 8/11 8/31 9/20 10/10 10/30 Date 月日
How to improve Koshu wine1. The Sur Lie method was employed in making Koshu wine. The contact of wine with yeast lees for more than 5 months resulted in the wine with high levels of amino acids, fruity and crispy flavor. [Sato, M. et al., Winemaking from Koshu variety by the sur lie method. Am. J. Enol. Vitic., 45: 312-318 (1994); 48: 1-6 (1997)] ⇒ Improve the palate (UMAMI)2. Fermentation in a small oak barrel gives the wine richness with vanillin and oak flavor. This is another typical type of Koshu wine. (Oak flavor and vanillin may increase UMAMI.)3. Recently, Dr. Tominaga, University of Bordeaux, found thiol aromas (3-mercaptohexane-1-ol, 3MH) in Koshu grapes (2004), and developed wine with aromas of grapefruits and passion fruits.⇒Early harvest is good for the aromas.4. We selected a wine yeast for Koshu wine⇒Uvafern 228 [Hisamoto, M., Sato, M. et al. Phenolic Off Flavor Characterization of Commercially Available Wine Yeasts and Selection of the Yeast for Koshu Winemaking. J. ASEV Jpn., 21, 112-119 (2010)
Red wine (Japan specific)Muscat Bailey A Hybrid （Bailey×Muscat Hamburg） grape made by Zembei Kawakami (1862- 1944) Muscat Bailey A has purple skin color and shows sugars up to 21 to 22ºBrix at the mid September. As it has good acidity and dense taste, the grapes are consumed as a table grape and used for winemaking. The grape has No. 1 position in making domestic red wine in Japan.
Wine, Muscat Bailey AThe Muscat Bailey A wine has reddishpurple color, special sweet aromas,moderate acids, and gentle tannin.The balance of fine tannin and pleasantfruit taste such as black currant anddark cherry is excellent. The taste andaromas show a little similar to Gamaywine.The relatively light and delicate tasteshows good pairing with Japanesedishes having a little heavy taste, suchas red meat, oily fish, sukiyaki, etc.
Conclusions1. Various types of white and red wine are enjoyed with many Western, Asian, and Japanese style cuisines in Japan. It may be internationally the same by the globalizations. Generally speaking, wines with good balance, palate (Umami) and a reasonable price are preferred.2. Traditional Japanese cuisine has a delicate Umami taste, and Japan specific white wine, Koshu shows an excellent pairing with those dishes. Also, the Muscat Bailey A exhibits good pairing with a little heavy Japanese dishes.3. The Umami is a basal taste for Japanese, and good Japanese wine has a delicate Umami taste. The typical example is Koshu sur lie.4. There is almost no scientific research on the wine’s Umami, but the Umami of wine might be derived from complex balance of amino acids, organic acids and tannins (palate). Aging may increase the Umami in wine because of the enhancement of smoothness (mouthfeel).5. I recommend you to enjoy wines of Koshu and Muscat Bailey A along with Japanese tasty dishes. You can find excellent matching of wine and Japanese food, I hope.