The New Year's Sake Resolution - Sake Is Not A Gimmick
Okay, it's a new year and my slate is clean. But! I do have one small admission to relate to you that will become the focal point of my Sake New Year's resolution. In years' past I have been sucked into the comfort of playing upon the "unique" and "novel" cards of sake when describing them to others. In fact it was one of my biggest selling pitches. "You must try sake today if your benchmark is that old hot crap served at bad sushi restaurants." "Sake is not what you remember." "Man, you must give sake a try it's really hip and now!" Well, I never really said that last line, but you get the picture. I have been selling sake for three years now and it has finally dawned on me that those - the royal we - in the "business" have been pushing sake as a gimmick.
Man that sounds harsh when I re-read that, but it is true to a degree. We have been on such a crusade to get people's attention about this incredible libation that we have taken the easy path of just playing up to the "newness" and "freshness" that sake represents. Of course I have always promoted with depth and zeal the real virtues of sake from being an amazing food partner to being a really clean alternative to a saturated Wine, Beer and spirits world. But time and time again, those who do not know much about sake feel more comfortable in the fact that it is "new" and "hip." Arrrghh, there I said it! And trust you me when I say that I speak to people. Out of every 10 customers who come into True Sake roughly 6 of these folks say, "I know nothing about sake," to which I reply, "Of course you do." Point being consumers still need more information about the "water of the gods."
One great selling point about sake is the fact that it is so darn good. Taken alone this is a virtue, but when stacked up with the fact that most people's impressions of sake are pretty low to "disgusting" then selling sake is like shooting candy in a fish bowl or taking fish from a baby, or something like that. It's easy because it's good, and we as importers, distributors, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and retail storeowners fall back on the easy route of just saying that sake is "new, fresh and good." Easy right? I am simplifying to a degree, but the message is clear as importing numbers and sales are way up for a third year in a row. So it cannot be just the pitch that is accounting for record numbers. It's the booze itself. Sake is not a gimmick, it is not a novelty, and it is not a party trick.
My New Year's Sake Resolution took hold on Christmas Eve at our dinner table, where two massive lobsters took an ill-fated turn onto our menu. I paired these lobsters and a generous amount of warmed butter cut with canola oil (Wife's idea) with a Junmai Ginjo from Kyoto, and it was sublime. So much so, that my father, who has been around a bottle or two of some really great Wines stated that he had never tasted a white that went as well with the lobster as the sake did. High praise indeed, and it confirmed my belief that sake is not just a great tasting beverage. It has a purpose far greater than just drinking well. It works! It fills the nooks and crannies of dishes that are often hard to pair with. It has scope and daring, and I have not found a cuisine that doesn't take kindly to sake. It is not a gimmick.
You've heard me time and time speak to the point that sake has 1/3 the acidity of Wine. How it has far lower histamine levels. And of course how it is pasteurized and as such has no sulfites, which all account for the fact that it is a cleaner burning fuel. Couple this with the notion that it has a depth and scope comparable to Wine, is far more affordable than the "challenging Wines," and is darn good then I must stand up and shout that sake is not a gimmick. As such, I will tweak my pitch this year to reflect this simple fact. And that is my resolution!