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1% ABV wine (stupid Japanese laws)

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yaeyama

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Hi:

I was planning to brew my first batch of wine, here in Japan. I spent hundreds of dollars getting all the equipment and supplies I would need to brew 6 gallons (the equipment purchased within Japan, or shipped from outside the country, all result in exhorbitant costs). I ordered 7 kg. of fruit to get started.

But, home brewing anything over 1% is illegal in Japan. I knew about this fact getting into it, as plenty of English sites had mentioned this, but nobody bothered investigating the penalties involved. Well, I just have, and it is -- get this -- up to 5 years in prison and/or up to a 50 man yen (about $5000 USD) fine. Not to mention confiscation of your brewing equipment. Just for brewing some god damned wine for home use to enjoy with my wife.

Needless to say, I don't like the idea of going to jail, paying fines, losing my job and home, and probably being kicked out of the country, just because the greedy retards at the tax office think they are being slighted out of some tax revenue. So therefore, I am going to try to sell my brand new, unused carboys and larger fermenter and suck up the losses.

Theoretically, if I brew a smaller amount of wine and keep the ABV to 1% or less, I am fully in compliance. If I were to take my recipe for a 5 gallon batch and scale it for a 1 gallon batch, using only 20% of each ingredient (including the yeast packet), and figured out the OGV and FGV to get to 1%, would I actually end up with something that tasted like wine? I can't even fathom the -idea- of 1% wine. :(

Admittedly, if I were to ignore the law and go ahead and brew my batches as originally planned, I would -probably- be okay. Apparently the amount of mitsuzou (secret brewing) going on in the privacy of people's homes is considerable. You can find beer and wine brewing kits in department stores, online, etc. However, as a foreigner my status in this country is tenuous at best, so I have to keep my nose cleaner than the average citizen. :(

If only this country stopped electing all these old 75 year old geezers and started passing laws with common sense for a change. Why not just ammend the law to say something like, "For home use only, no sales of end product allowed, up to 30 litres a year will be exempt". Then thousands or more normally law-abiding citizens wouldn't be hardened criminals. :mad:

Sorry for the rant. But, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Do you think brewing a 1% wine is worthwhile? Or will I just end up with an insipid juice that is worthy more of the kitchen sink than the glass?
 
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Luc

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A wine with 1% alcohol is likely to spoil quickly. So surely use sulphite and sorbate to stabilise.

But then it will be more of a cider (english version with alcohol) as a wine. More like a low alcohol beer......

Besides that I think it will be extremely difficult to make an alcohol with an abv
of 1% alcohol. I think the sugar in the juice alone will get you over this amount. So you will get a sweet low alcohol beverage.

On the bright site:
Wine is 11% alcohol. Yours will be 1% so you will be able to drink 10 times as much and still be consuming the same amount of alcohol :D

Seriously: if you do not trust it stop with it. A wine with 1% alcohol is not worth the trouble. Or just try a batch and then decide, it may help in the sales talk afterward.

Luc
 

yaeyama

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Seriously: if you do not trust it stop with it. A wine with 1% alcohol is not worth the trouble. Or just try a batch and then decide, it may help in the sales talk afterward.

Luc
I guess I'm going to give up and just sell what I can on auctions. :-/ I would have probably gone ahead with it, but I purchased some wine supplies over the 'net and they have been held at customs for the past 3 days. I can just imagine a few agents showing up a couple of months from now asking to have a look around.

What a shame. Hopefully now that Abe's neocons have had their asses handed to them in yesterday's election, somebody with common sense will be able to get this changed some day. I read somewhere that Japan is the only industrialized nation in the world that has a ban on home brewing (beer and wine, not spirits).

Man I hope I at least get 50 cents on the dollar, but I have a bunch of baggie powders and other odds and ends that I don't really feel comfortable about selling. :-/

I'm keeping my wine book though. Maybe someday... :)

Anyway, thanks for all the advice you guys provided.
 

phantom

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I feel for you

I lived in Japan for almost four years. It was fun while I was there, but it would take a LOT to get me back. I loved some of the stuff that goes on over there.

I got the brewing bug after I came back to the US, but I liked the 1% ABV rule. It's only slightly stronger than something that can qualify as "non-alcoholic" beer here. You can get porn, beer and whiskey from vending machines, but good luck finding a vending machine that will give you a regular soda. Don't even think about trying to find diet soda.

A handful of bottles of wine I made from kits has made it back to Japan with some friends, but when they looked into the regs of making it in-country, they didn't even bother trying to get the equipment.

As for the politics, I liked how the "young" guys were in their 50s, and it seemed like every year, at least someone in office died, and their replacement wasn't much younger. Right now, there are guys in office that might have been around for WWI, and fought in WWII.

Not that I would encourage any sort of illegal activities, but it seems like you need the Prohibition style grape kits, where the label said something like "don't mix these raisins with water, sugar and then add yeast, or you'll end up with wine and that would be illegal". Again, not to encourage anything, but there's always the adage of "it's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission". Good luck with your sale.
 

Warui Tanuki

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Obviously you're the one who has to decide if it's worth the risk, but personally I've heard of plenty of people homebrewing in Japan. The 1% law is mostly ignored and I've never heard of anyone getting in trouble for it. Of course I'm sure gaijin would be more likely to be prosecuted for anything, but I don't think most people in Japan, even in law enforcement, even know about that law. Personally, I plan to keep fermenting various grains and fruits and things when I go to Japan (hopefully by next year). Also, I don't think that law's going to change anytime soon, mostly because it's not really an issue. The only people to whom it matters already ignore it.
 
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its against the law for me to sleep with more then three pillows. coming to check me out...do they have a roving 1% abv viloators police van are someting.
 

JohnT

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The way I see it is this..

If you make a batch of wine for just you and your wife, and tell no-one, then how the heck will anybody else know???

Laws like this are usually targeted for the more "hard core" offenders. I am sure that if you were to start selling the wine you make, you would be asking for trouble. If you do 5 gallons and just keep it to yourself, then you should be safe.

As you say, they sell homebrew kits in department strores. Does everybody who purchases one end up in jail? Rather hard to believe.

If I were in your shoes, I would go for it. If caught, tell them that you always water the wine down before drinking it.
 

JoyofWine

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Lol James how did you find & awaken this old post from 2007? :)

I thought it was so weird that you could get beer from a vending machine when I went there! Here in the State all the teenagers would be sneakin' some!
 

salcoco

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if I understand correctly you can buy sprits, something like 40% vodka or even higher alcohol content. Make Angelica. Use fruit juice, grape, apple etc. and mix with appropriate amount of unflavored sprit to achieve 12%. let it blend for about 1-2 months , taste and add sugar syrup if necessary. Use Pearson square to compute blend ratio, remember that juice is 0% alcohol. For Everclear which is 90% the ratio was 6:1, juice:Everclear. Note this is not brewing, but blending. This method was used in California in the old days with Mission grapes. A winery there has started using the method to sell as Angelica. It sounds weird but the results are amazing. My Dad used this method(read old Italian method) with Concord juice. after aging the result was difficult to discern from Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry. Experiment and have fun with various juices and thumb your nose to the law since this is just blending. Good Luck
 

Davenetbot

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Excuse me. But the way i understand to get around the 1% rule is to brew your beer / wine to normal. But when you serve it you do so with a glass of water to be poured into the drink to bring it to 1%.
 

derunner

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Lol James how did you find & awaken this old post from 2007? :)

I thought it was so weird that you could get beer from a vending machine when I went there! Here in the State all the teenagers would be sneakin' some!
Ha. I don't know how he found it, but I have read it before and I just joined a year ago so I must show up in some searches.
 

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