January 2009

Ask Beau - "What sakes do you recommend for a wedding tasting?"

Posted by admin in 2009, Ask Beau, January, Newsletter

ask beau jan 2009We at True Sake get asked the gambit when it comes to helping people select sakes. We get food parameters to work with - size parameters - location where sake will be consumed parameters - glassware parameters - etc - etc and customers count on us to deliver the best sakes available to achieve success within those parameters. Our track record is pretty solid. We miss once in a while, but on the whole we have such a good understanding of our inventory that things work out for the best.

Recently got one of "those" parameter requests that had many different facets including a wedding in the south, oysters, spicy Mexican fare, and a tasting line-up to educate the wedding attendees most of which who did not have a firm grasp on the concept of sake. Herewith is the reply email from Rob M who graciously permitted me to share with our readers:

Beau --

FYI, the sake tasting at the wedding-rehearsal dinner went very well. In total, I taught about 15-20 people about premium sake, from 20-somethings through people even older than me.

Very few had any previous experience with premium sake. I gave a little pitch (and a handout) about sake grades and SMV/san-do numbers, including your book and web site as a reference.

Then I conducted tasting of the three you recommended to me:

  • JH03 Urakasumi "Misty Bay" Miyagi +2/1.5 $26 (for oysters)
  • JG03 Bishonen "Beautiful Boy" Kumamoto +2/1.7 $18 (for spicy food)
  • DG06 Wakatake Onigoroshi Shizuoka "Demon Slayer" 0/1.4 $34

Almost everyone could immediately tell them apart by smell. Most people had a clear favorite without food, split fairly evenly between the Wakatake and the Bishonen. Only a couple of people offered learned opinions, based more on wine experience than sake experience, and they both immediately preferred the Wakatake for its elegance and its interesting nose.

The Bishonen really does go with Mexican food, including spicy stuff and plain tamales. The big style and cooked rice/grain smells and flavors make that combo work for me.

I concluded that raw oysters are a tough match. The Urakasumi was OK, but left me wanting something different, maybe something more citric-smelling, lighter-bodied, and more palate cleansing -- in wine, Muscadet, Albariño, Loire Sauvignon. Still, I agree it's a pretty good pairing.

I like the Wakatake by itself, and I'm sure I'd like it with standard Japanese sakana. However, I discovered that the apple notes in it go well with a bit of cheese.

So thanks for the advice. We probably convince a couple of people to try premium sake.


I'm just grinning from ear to ear about this one! Thank you so much for sharing Rob. Being the perfectionist that I am I forgot to ask you about the water temperature of the oysters. Whoops. Probably warm water oysters - much warmer than the waters off of Miyagi prefecture where Urakasumi brews its sake for local shell fish. And since we needed a Junmai - Ginjo - Daiginjo I thought the Urakasumi would nail it. Live and learn and thank you for being a True Sake foot soldier out there for the betterment of sake. You have earned your stripes!

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 other correspondence should use info @ truesake.com.)

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