The introduction of the waterwheel in the 17th century, which eliminated the need for the manual polishing of rice grains, allowed Japan to begin producing saké at an industrial level for its greater population. Today Japan remains at the cutting edge of technology in its brewing practices. However, the traditional methods of handcrafted, artisanal saké remain alive in smaller and often family-owned breweries. Many of these showcase local ingredients and focus on microclimates to make what is known as ‘jizake,’ or regional saké.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.