New Year's Eve - Go Sparkling Sake or Go Home!
So you're a sake tough guy? A sake purist! One of those "you must be joking!" kind of guys when somebody offers you a glass of sparkling sake. Me too! But, and this is from the heart, sparkling sake is actually pretty darn good. It's light and refreshing. It has a far lower alcohol content than typical sakes, which is nice in a corporate setting to keep you from doing the Naked Mexican Hat Dance on top of the Company X-mas party's buffet table. And truthfully, it is a nice break from sake, but at least keeping to the sake family!
I wrote a newsletter in September '05 and touched on my role in helping to bring more sparkling sakes to the US. When I began pushing my importers there was one sparkling sake available in the States - Formula Nippon (FN) from Okunomatsu, which sold for $114/720ml bottle. Pretty extravagant if you ask me! (We stopped selling FN as it was just too pricey to keep on the shelves - you may special order this sake if you would like.) The brew that I really wanted - Suzunne from Ichinokura - is so in demand in Japan that they cannot export the limited quantities that they produce.
When I wrote the Newsletter in September '05 we offered four sparkling sakes. Today we offer 4 sparkling sakes and one sparkling Nigori. I believe that there are a total of 8 imported sparkling sakes that you can obtain in the US, but we feel several of these products are bogus at best. That said, there are plenty more in the pipeline and they will soon be available, and one of them is my "second favorite sparking sake" of all time - from Gokyo.
It seems like ages ago, but here are my brief thoughts on Sparkling Sake over a year ago:
|Is this then the future of sake in America? Hardly! Sparkling sakes are being produced in Japan to court a new type of alcohol drinker to the sake table. They are specifically being made to target women and younger drinkers, who consider sake their father's drink. These sakes are all a little sweeter than your average sake (even Nigori's), and they are lower in alcohol content as well, with an average between 6- 9% as opposed to the typical 15-17% for regular sakes. They are all made in mysterious and secret fashion, and most brewers will point out how their competitors make fake sparkling sake by adding carbonation. Bottom line is that they lightly pasteurize the sakes, which keeps the fermentation process going and results in naturally occurring carbonic dioxides (bubbles). It is fun to experiment with carbonic acids in sake, and I am certain that every type of sake drinker can find a sparkling sake that would speak to them in specific times and occasions.|
If you are game, I highly recommend trying a Sparkling Sake this New Year's Eve. Hell, why not? They mostly come in 300ml bottles, so if you "miss" the most you have lost is $14 and your macho dignity! At the very least you will see that many of the qualities found in filtered sakes such as balance, mouth feel, flavor push, and finish all factor into the Sparking Sake category. And last but not least, we highly recommend that you use sparkling wine glasses when drinking your bubbly! The fluted shape really exults the flavor and of course highlights the bubbles.
- Harushika "Tokimeki" * SMV: -80 Acidity 5.5
- Poochi Poochi * SMV: -20 Acidity: 1.5
- Hou Hou Shu "Bubble Bubble Sake" * SMV: -40 Acidity: 6
- Sudo Honke Yuki No Mai "Sparkling Beauty" * SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.3