Scary Sake – October 31st Is The Day To Face Your Sake Fears
Let’s face it! You are a Sake Scaredy-Cat. Oh sure, you try to come off as never fearing sake, but deep down you ARE terrified of certain brews. Right? Okay! Cool. Try to play it off! I get it. You’re not scared of sake. Sure! So let’s go grab a Nigori Sake then? Or hey... Let’s warm up this amazing Daiginjo? Or why not soak your amazing dried salmon in some Ginjo sake to let it absorb all that fishy flavor? See! You’re freakin’ terrified! I knew it! But don’t worry I won’t tell a soul, rather let us try to get you some sake backbone.
We have done lots of experiments having to do with the movement, storage, aging, and consumption of sake. As retailers, we have access to the goods, and it behooves us to know the strengths and limitations of sake. Temperature, storage, vibration, oxidation, caps, and vessels... we pretty much have done it all. And by all means ask our distributors, importers, and the brewers themselves what they have learned from us for the past 15 years. I think the scientific term is “a lot.”
We all know “ABC” in the wine world. (Anything But Chardonnay) But that doesn’t mean that there is never a nice time to have a glass of the C word. And to be Absolutely- Alcoholically-Honest (AAH) here, I like Chardonnay. So, just because others tell you to avoid Chardonnay doesn’t mean that you have to. After all of these years of Nigori sake being very popular in the States, there is this nose-turned-up movement to disparage Nigori sake just like Chardonnay. I’m not completely guilt free here. I often tell folks to steer clear of the un-clear. Yes, it is true. I say things like Nigori is just this sweet bum-rush of flavor and it drinks more like a cocktail than a sake. But, I have conquered my fear of Nigori because there are some really good Nigoris out there. This Halloween may be a good time to drink the Ghost Water of the sake world. We have some very tasty unfiltered sakes to try and my current favorite is the semi-chunky Nigori from Katafune that has amazing textures and flavors.
What else is scary in the sake market? How about temperatures? I think we are all over the misconception that hot sake is inferior sake or even “bad” sake. As you know bad sake that is heated makes for bad hot sake, and there are tons of brews that are amazing to warm up. But, what about that feeling you get when you walk past a graveyard? You know! It’s when your skin bumps into chicken skin, and the hairs on the back of your neck tingle. Your body flashes fear via a quick temperature swing, and it almost makes you want to scream just reading this! Well, what if I told you that there are some great Daiginjo sakes to warm. WHAT? No question about it. Shake off your Daiginjo allusions and ponder gently warming several of your favorite brews. I would throw some Nama-sakes into this equation as well. Namas? Warming Namas? You bet! So quit being so scared! Stop screaming! Start playing around and truly discover why sake is so amazingly adaptive to different temperatures. I dare you! I double dare you to gently warm your favorite $125 Junmai Daiginjo to discover a whole new flavor profile. Boo!
Okay, while we are speaking of the dead! Wait wha? The dead, the un-alive! Why don’t you really start walking into that dark house of sake exploration with your flashlight and all of your friends yelling, “Don’t go in there!” We really dare you! This Ghoulish season why not start “soaking” “marinating” smoked or dried fish in sake. The undead? Really? Yes! This is a big sake restaurant dish in Japan. Take cured or dried fish from mackerel to salmon or trout and place it in a shallow dish. Small pieces work best. Then take a dry Ginjo sake and soak the pieces until they are under the fluid. I prefer a dry but fruit forward Ginjo like Dewazakura’s Oka. Let the pieces marinate for an hour or two. Then eat right from the shallow dish! And do not forget to taste the leftover “fishy” sake. It’s scary but awesome!
Way to go! You are no longer a sake scaredy-cat! Oh my god what’s that behind you!?