"Ask Beau" November 2005
"Hello, I was wondering if you sake experts would be so kind as to recommend an entire dinner from appetizers to dessert that could be accompanied by good enough sake that would make my friends and I believe that sake wasn't just for Japanese food, thanks!"
Ken this is a great question and for you I will do this one better. I will include a great sake pairing that I did with Jeff Inahara at "Sur La Table" last year that I called my "Comfort/Take-Out Food Pairing" where we matched sake to foods that you can have delivered to your door or that you can make in ten minutes. The point is to show the flexibility of sake, and to show yet again that sake need not only go with Japanese food. Here was the evening pairing of sakes to the specific foods, with a brief review about each sake:
Wakatake Onikoroshi – "Demon Slayer" From Shizuoka Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo. SMV: +3 Acidity: 1.5
This ginjo has a sprightly filled nose of veggies and watermelon hints wrapped in an enduring scent. The first sip feels strong, but is greeted with a gentle and smooth follow up of subtle green apple and mineral flavors. The thickness is quite noticeable and makes for a nice chewy experience ending in long dry legs down the back of the throat. The mouth speed is quite slow and this is made all the more enjoyable by an abundance of fruit tones and sincere dryness. A very solid starter ginjo for beginners and a friend to the well versed.
Wine: Pinot Noirs/Dry Chardonnay
Beer: Honey Ales/Ambers
Foods: Miso-based dishes, dark veggies, chawanmushi, shrimp dumplings, spaghetti with basil. (The subtle layers of watermelon in the sake worked very well with the tomato sauce to give a nice smoky feel to the pairing.)
|POSOLE (Vegan Mexican Soup):
Kira – "Devil" From Fukushima Prefecture 1850. Honjozo. SMV: +15 Acidity: 1.4 Rice: Gohakumangoku milled to 60%.
Kira is a honjozo – added distilled alcohol – that has a fruity nose filled with peach tones. This sake is very dry and this is evident From the first chewy sip that evens out into a thin and almost watery departure from the mouth. Flavors such as mineral water, walnuts, and pine nuts glide throughout the mouth in a nice and slippery movement, and the finish is a dry sake drinker's wet dream. Kira has the backbone to stand up to stronger flavored foods.
Wine: Large Reds/Dry Whites
Foods: SautÈed fish in butter, spicy tuna rolls, cuisine with a chili or pepper zing. (The big dryness of Kira brought out the natural sweetness found in the vegetables of the soup.)
|SWEET & SOUR PORK:
Umenishiki "Sakehitosuji" – "Gorgeous Plum" From Ihime Prefecture 1821 SMV: +1.5 Acidity: 1.9 Junmai Ginjo Genshu
This undiluted ginjo has a subtle fruity nose mixed with koji rice and vanilla. The flavor in this thick genshu is all forward with a nice round middle and a complete and confident finish. There is no denying the fruit-filled flavors but the clean and crisp acidity blends perfectly with the over-all mouth to make a harmonized sake full of potency and subtlety. A great example of a ginjo that goes both ways – well with food and well on its own.
Wine: Confident Reds/Strong Whites
Foods: Crab and white fish dishes, will stand up to spice and compliments meats, game and oily fish. (The chewy sweet tones and big acidity of the sake jumped all over the pork and perfectly balanced the sweetness into a romantic sweet and savory flavor.)
|MAC & CHEESE:
Kamoizumi "Nigori Genshu" – "Summer Snow" From Hiroshima Prefecture. Junmai Ginjo Nigori Genshu. SMV: -3 Acidity: 1.6 Rice: Hattan milled to 60%.
This unfiltered sake is a nigori fan's dream come true. It is bottled, undiluted and without pasteurization for a true "fresh- From-the vat" taste experience. With a nose of fresh cut hay and grapes the first sip tells you that this sake is a luscious carnival of goodness. A gentle viscosity meets a full melon and cotton candy flavor rush that settles into a dry and subtle ending. This nigori looks like egg-drop soup or a snow-globe and the taste is equally as dramatic with a rich and creamy walk from start to finish. One tends to forget the 18% alcohol content as such a sublime and dreamy flavor is guided by a sure-footed feel that some call the "velvet hammer".
Wine: Sweet dessert wines
Beer: Sweet Ales
Foods: Creamy dishes, duck-filled summer rolls, coconut rice dishes. (A killer pairing as the hugely flavored nigori turned to cream in the mouth when meeting the cheesiness of the Mac.)
Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All correspondence should use info @ truesake.com.)