Sake Resolutions - Who Needs 'em?
Firstly, I do not subscribe to the notion of a "resolution." How many times during the calendar year do you ask yourself "Man, I need a resolution"? The word and the concept are just setting us up for failure this way and that. If "it" is not already in you than I'll be damned to tell you that the Hallmark Corporation could give a rat's ass about whatever personal appeal that you cry to yourself through the megaphone of public support after the most gluttonous holiday of the year.
Hold-tight on your over-consumption, over-eating, over-abusing for at least 29 days, and focus on the only thing worth "resoluting" about - sake.
It is with tremendous displeasure that I add a soggy decomposing log to the fire of the "resoluting season" in the form of "sake resolutions" - but many of you asked for it and herewith are the Top Ten Sake Resolution of 2007:
- Sake Resolution Number One - DRINK OTHER SAKES
Sounds weird right? But sometimes we get in the rut of "familiar" and our horizons narrow. I cannot tell you the amount of times that customers come into the store and straitjacket themselves by saying things like "I only like dry sake!" or "I only like floral sakes with a gentle sweetness." These folks pigeonhole themselves into believing that they have tasted the entire sake pool and have come to the realization that they only like a certain sect of sakes. Not true! If you like fruity sakes then try some dry brews. If you are the umpteenth person who comes into True Sake and claims that you only like "dry sake" then branch out, because more than likely you will be spellbound by a semi-sweet or semi-floral sake that will make you "Homer-smack" your forehead.
- Sake Resolution Number Two - GET ANOTHER VESSEL
One of the "Business Plan" reasons that I opened True Sake was the fact that soooooo many people have been given a sake set in their multiple birthday or holiday seasons and have no clue what to put in these strange "cups." Sadly, most folk feel the massive gravitational pull to drink sake out of small little thimbles. My default line at the store is "Hey drinking is a luxury, so consume out of whatever makes you feel good." But I say this with my mind screaming, "Use a white wine glass or a stolen Italian water glass or something with some girth." Bottom line is that sake is built like beer but drinks like wine and you or your worst enemy would never drink their favorite white Burgundy out of a clay mini-cup.
- Sake Resolution Number Three - HOT SAKE IS NOT THE ANTI-CHRIST
I dunno how many times I have to say this! Of course I had a mission 5 years ago to tell folks that the "hot sake" that they had been zombied into believing was "The Way" of drinking "Japanese Rice Wine" was really a liquid form of yuk! Because the product that we had in the US known as "sake" was a putrid over- aged under-cared-for form of "rice whatever." The Island known as Japan gets verrrrry cold in the winter and they know what tastes good when warmed, and those same sakes are now available here and you would be well blessed to try them.
- Sake Resolution Number Four - FORGET THE PAST
Yes, each and every human being who pays a rent or mortgage has had a bad booze experience. Mine was tequila and it took 20 years to realize that Ta-kill-ya was better than Jose Q Silver. Sake is far, far different than when you had that horrible "sake night." Give good sake a second chance - why? Because it is the cleanest burning fuel out there. Think "no hangovers" and get on with it!
- Sake Resolution Number Five - DAI TRYING
For God's sake, Dai Ginjo sake is not "the best" form of sake. There is no "best" category of sake. Junmai, Ginjo, or Dai Ginjo is no way of living. Please (and this plead comes at resolution number five) don't "classify" yourself. You are NOT a Dai Ginjo person! You are a great tasting and great feeling sake person. Do not get confused. There are a plethora of brews out there in the Junmai and Ginjo "space" that would float your boat.
- Sake Resolution Number Six - TAKE SAKE DEEP INTO DINNER
I am getting really tired of all of those "Haute Cuisine" restaurants that are "incorporating" sake into their menus, because this is cheap talk from the chef who loves sake but is only willing to pair it with his/her appetizer menu. God forbid that they get off of their beef with Cab kick or their Sauv Blancs with fish. Sake is a center of the plate beverage, plain and simple! So don't just cocktail or appetize with sake - use this brew to bring out the best of your main course. Sake pairs with everything.
- Sake Resolution Number Seven - SAKE ISN'T MARRIED TO SUSHI
Yes, this follows Resolution Number Six for a reason. 9 out of 10 of you had your first sip of sake at a sushi restaurant. These two Japanese "concepts" have been bedmates in the US from the get-go. In fact, many customers mix up these two words when they come into the store. The next time that you go to your favorite Italian restaurant bring a bottle of sake and when they mention the "corkage fee" tell them that sake bottles usually do not have a cork. 2007 is the year to get out of the sake-sushi mindset.
- Sake Resolution Number Eight - BE A SAKE BODYGUARD
It's time to lookout for sake when you are out and about. If for example you are at a restaurant and they serve sake out of shot glasses talk to the owner and say "bad idea." Or if you are at another establishment and you ask about cold sake and they tell that they will cool down their hot sake to make it cold its time to talk or walk. Likewise if they serve their cold sake in ceramic hot sake cups (O'choko) ask them to upgrade to glass and in particular large glasses. If you are reading this Newsletter then you are a sake warrior just like us, so take up your arms and fight the good fight.
- Sake Resolution Number Nine - DON'T GET GRADED
I firmly believe that sake will continue to skyrocket in popularity this year, and some of the side effects will soon come to heads. One such "bi-product" of popularity is for "authorities" to grade sakes like the Robert Parkers of the world. Resist this effort at all costs and on all fronts. John Gauntner - many moons ago and under severer urgings from his publisher - used a grading system to rate a series of sakes. He felt uncomfortable then and to this day regrets getting strong-armed to do so. It's not right to place a value to something that carries millions of values. As I state quite often, everybody is the champion of his or her own palate, so what good does somebody else's number do for you? If you find an article or an effort in this regard please call in the "Sake Resistance." Vive La Resistance!
- Sake Resolutions Number Ten - SELL THE CELLAR
There's no use fighting it you former wine snob! Your love of and fascination for "Nihonshu" has finally kicked your lust for wine to the curb. This affair of yours for rice and water has become too serious to just dabble. You are hooked. And that is way okay! So the time has now come to sell off that grape juice cellar and start replacing the "sulphites sauce" with sake. Those racks need not be empty for long. Be the first kid on your block to turn that wine cellar into a sake sanctuary. And yes - this also goes to the many sommeliers that read this Newsletter. It's time to quit "playing" with sake and really start making some room on your menu for this superior libation.