PARIS, France: Toshiro Kuroda is a man on a mission. Over the past seven years he estimates he has introduced up to 50,000 people in France to the delights of the fermented rice drink sake with fans that include French actor Gerard Depardieu.
“When I started seven or eight years ago, nobody was doing tastings of the famous sakes. [Now] there is a growing interest and it’s partly thanks to me!” he told Agence France-Presse at a fair in Paris dedicated to the beverage which originated in Japan.
Kuroda, who has lived in France for over 40 years, is credited with championing the drink in the French capital where his shop stocks some 60 brands. One of his tastings was held at Depardieu’s home.
Once dismissed as the exclusive preserve of Japanese restaurants, devotees of the drink say it is enjoying a growth in popularity in France with the opening of sake bars and a growing number of wine merchants that stock it.
Last week a Japanese non-governmental organisation, Jetro, promoted it at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, one of the world’s largest wine and spirit trade shows, while at the same time the sake fair was held in Paris.
“The aim of the sake tasting fair is that people get a clearer idea of sake,” said one of the organisers, Youlin Ly, who also runs the Sake Bar in Paris.
Visitors were able to choose from no less than 185 different brands of the drink.
Kuroda has even formed an association for fans of the drink.