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Power 5 Challenge – Who’s your Umami?

Power 5 Challenge – Who’s your Umami?

Move over wine world! If you really want to explore this nebulous “fifth taste” you must get your sake on. It’s been over 100 years since Mr. Kikunae Ikeda discovered this flavor, isolated it, and then made a powder (monosodium glutamate – MSG) out of it thus changing Asian cooking forever. Umami doesn’t have the same negative perception that MSG does, but it is still a unique term that many throw around wildly in the wine world. I myself used to be “Umami Challenged or UC,” but have put enough time and attention into this taste to finally grasp the meaning of umami. It takes a big person to say that they are “UC”! If you are one of these folks then what follows is a Power 5 Challenge of five brews that will help you detect and appreciate this special taste. 

1) Yuho “Eternal Embers” 

  • Rich and full-bodied this Junmai has loads of flavors including our fifth taste favorite umami. Smooth and round it is velvety in the glass with a very tasty complexity that does even more wonders at room temperature. 

2) Tamagawa “Red Label”

  • You don’t sip this sake it sips you! A massive nama that does well at room temperature and warmed. A wonderful guide to unearth umami qualities throughout each sip, because the flavors keep coming like an avalanche. 

3) Onda 88

  • If you want to be spoon-fed pure umami then get ready to taste Onda Junmai. Each sip is a layered umami rush that unfolds in the palate along with bucket loads of smooth and savory “other” flavors. Fat, chewy, and very big this brew speaks the language of umami. 

4) Nechi Otokoyama Yamahai

  • Talk about an “elevator” sake that has floors and floors of flavors going up and down. A very pronounced flood of umami sake that does great at three different temperatures. Perfect for the new Riedel Junmai Glass


5) Ooki Daikichi Konnichiwa Cooking Sake

  • Say hello to liquid umami in a bottle. This brew is a cooking sake that is richer and umami filled rather than fat and sweet like Miran. If you like to cook and drink this brew is for you. 
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