Winebits 153: Japanese wine, chips and wine, Kluge Estate

? Yes, the Japanese make wine: The Japanese have made wine for years, but few people outside Japan wanted to drink the sweet wine made with a native grape called koshu. That may be about to change, reports the New York Times. A wine importer and several family-owned Japanese wineries, working under the banner Koshu of Japan, are trying to be the first to produce koshu well made enough to succeed in the world market. And, somehow, an intriguing story about a little known Japanese native hybrid manages to work in Robert Parker. Amazing, isn't it?

? Potato chips and wine: I can't link to this — only have a news release. But Sokol Blosser, the well-regarded Oregon winery, has launched a marketing drive that pairs its wines with Kettle potato chips. There is a certain goofiness to this that the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates (though the news release has entirely! too many! exclamation points!), and Sokol Blosser has scored some social media points by using Facebook and Twitter in the campaign. The bigger question, though, is not pairing potato chips and wine. it's pairing expensive wine with potato chips. Sokol Blosser's least costly bottle is $15, and as much as I enjoy goofy pairings, potato chips and a $24 bottle of pinot blanc seem a bit out of balance.

? Virginia's Kluge Estate for sale? My pal Dave McIntyre has the sad news. Kluge, a key winery in Virginia that makes quality rose and sparkling wine, is in financial trouble. Writes Dave: "This winery's collapse could send the message that Virginia is not a good market for wine investment, even as the overall quality of the wines improves to impressive, world-class levels." The regional wine business has mostly avoided the recession-based devastation that has hit California and other wine regions, but apparently, it isn't immune.