Helping Japan, One Glass at a Time

What’s the most delicious way you can contribute to Japan’s recovery from the triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis?

Drink sake. Japanese sake, of course, but that’s where all the good stuff is from.

Japan’s sake industry is a national treasure; one of its most traditional and unique industries. But while the quality is as high as ever, financially the Japanese sake industry has been in decline for a while as most Japanese drinkers choose beer, shochu and increasingly wine.

Many breweries are in old buildings and even those far from the epicenter suffered some damage in the earthquake. It’s never easy for small, artisanal companies to raise capital that they might need for repairs, but a surge in orders for the product will help with any bank needs they might have.

Beyond the purely practical, Japanese people can use a gesture of support. Right now the American government is heavily criticizing and questioning Japan, with good reason, over its handling of its nuclear plants. Our leaders are absolutely right to do this. But let’s not make that our only message to the Japanese people, who are beaten up emotionally by this ongoing trauma.

Last week I announced on my blog “Drink Sake Tonight,” a social media event for Friday, March 25. Since my tiny blog post I have received several notes of gratitude from Japanese people. All have the same theme: we’re glad that someone cares about Japan.

The idea is really simple. On Friday, just buy a bottle of Japanese sake, any brand, and drink it. Tweet about it with the hashtag #drinksaketonight. Or don’t tweet. Just buy the sake. You’ll keep brewers and exporters employed. You’ll lift spirits in more ways than one.

It’s not much, I admit. Drinking a bottle of sake on Friday won’t cool fuel rods or rebuild crushed homes or find missing people. But it will help, even if only a little, and it’s really not much to ask.

So Drink Sake Tonight on Friday, March 25. It’s the easiest, tastiest Japan benefit around. Kampai!

Wine writer W. Blake Gray is Chairman of the Electoral College of the Vintners Hall of Fame. Previously wine writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, he has contributed articles on wine and sake to the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits, Wine Review Online, and a variety of other publications. He travels frequently to wine regions and enjoys coming home to San Francisco.