November 2005

Gobble This – Why Sake Should Be On Your Thanksgiving Menu

Posted by Beau Timken in 2005, Newsletter, November

One year ago I wrote the following heading for the Newsletter:


Welcome to the third installment of America's sake-centric newsletter. I dare you all to incorporate sake into this year's Thanksgiving Dinner. Sake definitely goes with fowl that is prepared well, and lots of sake goes well with that over-done turkey that granny makes each November. Think about the other elements, ala cranberry sauce and butter, and instead of your full-bodied white or dry red try a full- bodied kimoto style junmai or a plump junmai ginjo to make that perfect mouth pairing. Sake works wonders!


Well did you? I did get a lot of feedback from folks who wanted to "shake up" Thanksgiving, but they were more impressed with how the sake performed. Some were skeptical that a full-bodied Junmai Ginjo or old style Kimoto or Yamahai sake could stand up like a glass of some huge Cab or a dry white. But the overall reactions were quite positive. I recall one reader who emailed that she didn't know that a starch beverage could go well with her "mom's famous mash potatoes," but as she put it "the pairing made me look like a rock star."


The funny thing is that I have been working so hard to get people to grasp the concept that sake need not be that rubbing alcohol jet fuel hot plonk that they are so used to in a hot sake, and if fact it is quite soft, light and filled with nuance. That was the easy sell, and now I have to wheel the big ship back the other way to show that not all sakes are soft, clean and easily overwhelmed by flavors such as cranberry, gravy, or garlic. Sake has balls when it needs to, and there are a ton of really unique and flavorful brews that go so perfectly with the "T-bird." (Hell, we even have a fantastic nihonshu (sake) to go with a Tofuty-bird)


I look for a robust acidity when I pair with meat, game or fowl. Add to that butter and other mouth filling flavors I like sakes that have some staying power in terms of flavor. I select fatter sakes that fill the mouth, rather than the light clean ones that fire right through the palate. Think meaty sakes for meaty flavors, and also use a larger glass than usual to mix up that acidity. Go with your big reds glasses, and don't worry about the next day big reds hangovers.


Sake is really a slam dunk this Thanksgiving, and to make it even more easy I will hang little turkeys around the necks of the sakes that excel with the bird in the True Sake store. By all means phone in – 415.355.9555 – and we will shout these out. Give the rice drink a shot at your mom's potatoes or you Aunt's version of "deep fried Turkey." You will not be disappointed. Here are "Five To Try" and they are in alphabetical order:


  1. Hiraizumi Yamahai Junmai
  2. Kikuhime Yamahai Junmai
  3. Masumi Yamahai Junmai Ginjo
  4. Taiheizan Kimoto Junmai
  5. Tenzan Junmai Genshu


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