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If you’ve had the pleasure of shopping at Daiso, you know Japan’s biggest chain of 100-yen stores sells just about everything. An array of kitchenware, school and office supplies, and even basic articles of clothing such as underwear, neckties, and belts can all be yours for just 100 yen (US$0.84) each.

Daiso even sells food and beverages, with seasonings, snacks, and soft drinks lining the shelves. This is common knowledge among thrifty shoppers looking for a cheap place to stock up on snacks, but if you’re searching for something stiffer than a bottle of tea or cola, a trip to the convenience or liquor store is still in order, right?

Not necessarily, as we recently discovered that some Daiso branches now sell wine. As big of a surprise as that was, we were in for an even bigger one once we poured ourselves a glass, because it’s actually pretty good.

Not every Daiso location carries wine, but we were able to track the budget-priced spirits down at the chain’s Oizumi Gakuen branch in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward. Despite the term, you may have noticed that 100-yen stores occasionally mark up certain premium items to 200 or even 500 yen, but we can confirm that’s definitely not the case with Daiso’s wine, which sells for just 100 yen a bottle.

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There are a few tradeoffs that come with that price point, however. First, the bottles have screw caps. While modern science has shown that this format, when properly implemented, gives up nothing in its ability to lock in a wine’s flavor, this does mean that you won’t be able to look forward to that satisfying, sophisticated sound of popping the cork with Daiso’s lineup.

Second, at just 250 milliliters (8,5 ounces), the 100-yen containers are only a third of the size of a standard-sized wine bottle. Still, there’s enough vino inside for two generous pours, and at these prices, you can always grab three off the store shelf if you need that kind of inventory for your cellar.

Daiso has a total of seven wines on offer, and we decided to pick up a bottle of each to bring back to the office, where our very own Mr. Sato was standing by to lead our team of taste tasters.

▼ Not because he knew we were planning this article, though, but just because Mr. Sato is always sitting in the office waiting for someone to come by and pour him a glass of booze.

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We decided to start with the whites, which were a Chardonnay and a Viognier.

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Neither one was bad, although if you asked us if they were great, we’d have to say no. The flavors aren’t quite as well-defined as they could be, and if you over-chilled them to dull the effects on your taste buds, we don’t think the drinking experience would suffer that much. On the other hand, either Daiso white would make a good candidate for an economical batch of fruit-enhanced sangria to serve to guests at a get-together.

Next up were the four reds, a Merlot, a Cabernet, a Pinot Noir, and a Syrah (which you might know as Shiraz, particularly if you drink examples produced by Australian vineyards).

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All of these far outperformed the whites, and considering their prices, tasted far better than they have any right to. The real standout, though, was the Syrah.

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As a matter of fact, with its amethyst-like hue and refined aroma, it was so delicious that it got Mr. Sato waxing poetic, giving his impression as:

“When you take the first step, it’s like stepping into a forbidden paradise. The regal, sensual taste alights on your tongue, and the wine feels like a single night of passion as it slides down your throat.”

We’re not sure if it was the preceding and multiple glasses of wine that had given Mr. Sato the gift of glorious gab, but we realized we were no match for him in words, so instead we turned to numbers. Taking a quick poll of our taste-testing team, we asked how much they’d expect to pay at a restaurant for a glass of wine that tasted like the Daiso Syrah. The most common response was 500 yen, and with at least two glasses in each 100-yen bottle, our taste buds tell us we’re getting 10 times our money’s worth.

As a matter of fact, we were so impressed with the Syrah that we completely forgot about our bottle of the last variety of Daiso wine, the Syrah Rosé. We guess we’ll just have to wait until the next suitably special occasion gives us an excuse to crack it open.

▼ Which, thanks to its laughably low price, will be “the very next time we’re thirsty.”

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Photos © RocketNews24
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