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Recapping the "Winter Sake Tasting"

On December 7th True Sake invaded Medicine in downtown SF to conduct a tasting that paired different temperature sakes to the famous "monk food" offerings from their new winter menu. Participants were the first to try this menu, and of course they were treated to some amazing sakes at various temperatures. Below please find the pairings for the evening, and please note that the "tastees" also were treated to a blind tasting that was tricky, very tricky, as we poured three sakes from the same brewery. They tasted the Junmai, Junmai Ginjo, and Junmai Dai Ginjo from Urakasumi brewery from Miyagi Prefecture.


WINTER: The usually coldest season of the year, occurring between autumn and spring, extending in the Northern Hemisphere from the winter solstice to the vernal equinox, and popularly considered to be constituted by December, January, and February. 2. A year as expressed through the recurrence of the winter season. 3. A period of time characterized by coldness, misery, barrenness, or death.


Welcome Sake:


Ginban Banshu" Silver Plate"
Toyama Prefecture 1910.
Junmai Dai Ginjo.
SMV: +5 Acidity: 1.2


This sake has a beautiful nose of chrysanthemums, marigolds, mushrooms, and unripe strawberries. "Banshu" starts with a semi- thick viscosity filled with strawberry and banana flavors wrapped in shimmering and soft complexion. It is a very easy drinking sake that is a crowd/party pleaser as grape tones and a soft acidity play make it a very Wine- like sake. The dry finish is superb and the light and shimmering journey through the mouth makes for a velvety smoothness/drinkability. This sake tastes like quality! Very good chilled and at room temperature.


Word: Smooth
Wine: Soft Reds/Dry Chardonnays
Beers: Creamy Ales
Foods: Steamed fish, poached chicken, shrimp, and breads.


1st Course:


Kamoizumi "Shusen" Three Dots"
Hiroshima Prefecture.
Junmai Ginjo.
SMV: +1.5 Acidity: 1.6


This Junmai is on the opposite spectrum to a fruity floral sake. It has a full nose of shiitake mushrooms, woodsy earthtones and damp leaves. This is a very deep Ginjo that starts soft and ends with a deep exhale of mushrooms and smoked wood. There is a very soft creaminess that is thick and chewy, almost like a moderately sweet sherry, and subtle anisette flavoring turns into a honey- like aftertaste when the sake warms up. This sake is best served room temperature or slightly warmed.


Word: Shiitake Mushroom
Wine: Deep Rich Reds
Beers: Ambers/Stouts
Pairing: Sesame Tofu and the sake will be served "Nuru-kan" or lukewarm.


2nd Course:


Rokkasen "Six Songs Of The Immortal"
Yamagata Prefecture.
SMV: -12 Acidity: 1.7


In your pursuit of the complete sake experience, one must venture into the so-called sweet zone to discover the splendors and quirks of a Junmai that has a -12 SMV value. This Junmai has a ripe cherry and mushroom nose with hints of earth tones. It is a "mover" Junmai as the sweet flavor rush on the tip of the tongue moves from a robust front to a nice syrupy slide down the back of the throat. The most prominent flavor enveloped in the viscosity is ripe cherries in a syrup sauce, which meets a nice acidity play for a snappy finish. It is freakishly sublime, like a bad hair day that actually looks cool, and it is not Kool-Aide sweet. Recommended by brewer as an after dinner drink.


Word: Cherries
Wine: Riesling
Beers: Honey Ales
Pairing: Warm spinach salad with persimmon, tasted cashews & ponzu dressing, and the sake will be served "Hana-hiye" or slightly chilled at about 50F.


3rd Course:


Nishinoseki "Champion of the West"
Oita Prefecture.
SMV: -3 Acidity: 1.5
With a nose of sweet flowers hidden amongst mushroom, nuts and cream, the first sip of this Junmai is like tasting a sip of buttery popcorn. Don't let the low SMV fool you as this guy drinks more savory than sweet. Probably one of the softest sakes in the biz, despite its deep and expansive flavors. This shimmering Junmai is great chilled and even better warmed up.


Word: Creamy
Wine: Soft reds/creamy whites
Beers: Blond Ales
Pairing: Roasted dumpling squash with shimeji, avocado, eggplant and white miso, and the sake will be served "Atsu-kan" or hot.


4th Course:


Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku "Great Plan"
Kochi prefecture.
SMV: +8 Acidity: 1.4


"Great Plan" is one of those sakes that break the mold. It's quite a dry brew, but doesn't have the typical sharp, staccato profile of a dry sake. Rather it drinks clean and round and provides a great example of a shimmering sake. The nose is collection of aromas from marshmallow and cream to apple and plums. Hints of cherries and caramel don't arrive until the dead-stop finish.


Word: Round
Wine: Soft reds/dry whites
Beers: Dry Ales
Pairing: Moromi miso with vege / Nine-grain rice, and the sake will be served "Jo-on" or room temperature.


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