September 2010

Sake Profile - "What Have You Learned?"

Posted by Beau Timken in 2010, Newsletter, September
Sake Reviews Well the time has come where I turn the tables on you guys! For seven years now I have been preaching to you "all things sake" and have been trying my best to get you to a level of personal sake understanding (sake "enlightenment" sounds a tad dorky and new age). At last I can finally say that you "get it." You now "officially" get sake. Congrats!

BUT - and you knew that big ol' but was coming - can you put your likes and dislikes about your own personal preferences into words - can you communicate your sake profile? In a sense you have been charting your own sake topographical maps for years now - you have taken our recommendations, you have taken some friend's recommendations, and you have taken some chances. In a word you have tasted the sake frontier, but did you write down your discoveries? Did you chart those unfamiliar now familiar waters? Did you create a sake profile for yourself?

When speaking to others - and not to us at True Sake - what do you say about sake and your palate? Who is the sake you? Are you a dry guy? A Junmai queen? Is nigori the fluid that floats your boat? Are you Yamahai geek? A Daiginjo slut? A honjozo madman? How would you categorize yourself and why?

If you have not done this little self-sake awareness challenge - I dare you! I dare you to put into words what you like about sake, and what sakes speak to you. It's a pretty important exercise, because at the very least you can then communicate that information to us and we can recommend far more offerings.

How do you do this? Easy! Answer the following ten questions:

1) What type of sake is it? A Daiginjo? A Nigori? A Honjozo?
2) What temperature did you enjoy drinking it?
3) What about the aroma made an impression?
4) What was your first sip impression?
5) How did the sake feel in your mouth?
6) What flavors did you recall?
7) How was the finish?
8) Did it work with foods?
9) Did it remind you of any other sakes?
10) What is the one thing that you remember most about that sake?

Need more help? Here are the sub-questions to each of the questions above:

1A) Pretty self-explanatory but if you don't know - always read the label or ask.
2A) Did you have it chilled- room temperature - heated- super heated?
3A) Did it have a floral nose? Grainy, ricey, fruity, earthy, creamy, yeasty etc?
4A) Did it jump at your tongue or ease in? Was there a lot of acidity? Sweet? Bitter?
5A) Fat, chewy, tight, compact, cutting, heavy, bright, velvety, silky, round, gentle etc?
6A) Grainy, ricey, fruity, earthy, chocolaty, creamy, ripe fruit, un-ripe fruit, minerally etc?
7A) Was the finish quick? Did it have a tail? Did it have an aftertaste? Did it go quietly or loudly?
8A) Did you drink it alone or paired it with foods? Overpowered? Complimented? Union?
9A) Did it have similar traits to other sakes in terms of flavor and feeling?
10A) Can you name one word "Chewy" "Honeydew" "Clean" "Crisp" that best describes that sake?

Part and parcel with this challenge is an aspect to this "game" that is the biggest bur in my shorts. Why in God's name can you not recall the names of the sakes you enjoy? Me thinks many of you are lazy! How can a white boy like me from Ohio remember the names that I do year in and year out? We are first amused when you come to the store and say, " Oh I had the best sake and you recommended it - do you remember it - it comes in a brown bottle - it's about $25 - it's located on the table in the center of the store - and it goes really well with grilled chicken?" I just smile and say can't you remember the name? You just remembered at least five things about the sake, and all you need to remember is one! The NAME! Then it's not that amusing. If you can remember Stag's Leap why can't your remember "Seven Bridges" or "Gokyo"? As I tell all who will listen - use your phone! Take a pic! Write down the name in notes! Start a Sake Notes page

So the challenge continues: First try to identify your sake profile. Second remember the names of the sakes that you enjoy. Third and most importantly don't claim to like "all sakes." You don't! - Trust me. If there is a guy who could realistically say the he likes all sakes it is I! But I don't, because there are some sakes that I enjoy perhaps by the glass but not two. The point is to start NOT liking some sakes. Do you like "wine" - all wines? Not a chance. The same holds true for your brews. If you can speak to the sakes that you don't care for then it makes it so much easier to speak about brews that you do like! I double dare you to NOT like a few sakes! (I said a few.....)

This adventure that we have been on has been a long and glorious one. But it is made all the more exciting if we come out on the other side with a solid sense of our own sake profiles. You are your sake and your sake is you! Who are you? (Think the WHO tune blaring in the background - whoooooooooo are u hooo hooo - hooo hooo!)

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