February 2011

Sake "Hots": Ten Brews Worth Heating

Posted by Beau Timken in 2011, February, Newsletter
Yes, it is that time of the year to enjoy warmed sake! Well in a sense, if you live in San Francisco, summer is also a great time to enjoy warmed sake. Basically anytime is a great time to warm up sake. Hot tubing? Think hot sake. Making soups or stews? Think hot sake. Feeling sick or under the weather? Think hot sake. Trapped in a snow covered ski cabin? Think hot sake. Tailgating for a sporting event? Think hot sake. At your favorite sushi restaurant? DON'T think hot sake! Think hot PREMIUM sake! You bet! Ask the restaurant staff if they only have regular heating sake or do they warm other sakes. I say pay a couple more bucks and get a great warming sake from the menu. (Look in the Junmai or Honjozo section or ask the kitchen which they like warmed up.)

When in a retail store, look for sakes that have body and good balance. Of course the categories of Junmai and Honjozo do well, but so too do Yamahai and many seasonally released sakes. Ginjo and Daiginjo sakes should definitely not be ignored, as in many cases they take heat very well for a clean and round drinking experience.

The following text was written on the handouts for our first-ever blind hot sake tasting (please see above):

There are very few alcoholic beverages that you can warm, and none as delicious as sake. In this regard we in the West have only been given a glimpse of what good hot sake can taste like. Why? Because the sakes that we have been using to heat up are on the low end of the quality spectrum for various reasons. This first ever blind warm sake tasting is to point out that hot sake doesn't have to taste like hot jet fuel, and that you need not only heat up inferior sake. There is a whole new world out there for you to explore.
So to help you explore, herewith is a list of TEN SAKES FOR WARMING and if you are only familiar with machine heated box hot sakes made locally (90% of all hot sake that you drink at restaurants is made in the U.S.) then these guys will open your eyes and blow your mind. Can you taste the difference? Do certain sakes warm better? Absolutely!

  1. Harushika "Spring Deer" Nama Junmai Ginjo Genshu
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  2. Kura Kabuto "Samurai Armor Helmet" Muroka Junmai Daiginjo
    Read More »
  3. Sougen "Pride of Samurai" Junmai
    Read More »
  4. Nishinoseki "Champion of the West" Junmai
    Read More »
  5. Kamoizumi Shusen "Three Dots" Junmai Ginjo
    Read More »
  6. Matsunoi "Wishing Well" Tokubetsu Honjozo
    Read More »
  7. Yuki no Bosha "Cabin in the Snow" Junmai Ginjo
    Read More »
  8. Tsukinokatsura "Eternal Tree On The Moon" Junmai
    Read More »
  9. Kanbara "Bride of the Fox" Junmai Ginjo
    Read More »
  10. Fukuju Junmai Daiginjo
    Read More »
Start warming your sakes! Seriously. Can you warm your wine to enjoy with a nice bowl of soup? Can you warm your beer to enjoy with a hearty stew? Of course, but watch out for those warm beer burps! Point being, sake is so flexible that you can warm it for fun or for function. Heated dish with a heated sake! Heated tub with a heated sake! Freezing night with a heated sake!

As if the above list needs adding to - pay very close attention to the Secret Word Sake at the bottom of the Newsletter. The Kikuhime is a star when warmed. That's why we made it this month's SWS.

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