January 2012

Ask Beau - "How can I throw a sake tasting party?"

Posted by Beau Timken in 2012, Ask Beau, January, Newsletter
Oh my - let me count the ways!

We get this question a lot and of course there are so many different ways to celebrate and learn about sake in a social setting. I replied to Sarah H from Gainesville, FL very specifically as we exchanged some emails and I got a sense of what she wanted to achieve. But for your benefit here are several sake party strategies that work well!
  1. The Blind Tasting

    Get 5 or 6 sakes of different categories and styles and hide them in dark socks - we use black baseball socks for our tastings! Cover the bottles and set in the middle of a table that people can walk around and pour for themselves. Provide them with a score card or use beads or beans and little cups in front of each sake. (The problem with little cups where people place their beads is that others can see and there is the influence factor.) I prefer a little scorecard and the tasters pick their top three and their least favorite.

    A second fun way of doing a blind tasting is to line the bottles up and have people try to determine which sake is the "sweetest" and "driest." And to make thinks really fun have two of the sakes be the same and the guests must try to find the two same sakes.
  2. The Category Tasting

    Just as it sounds you taste by sake categories. You can do a pure Junmai tasting or all Nigori or all Ginjo etc. I prefer doing a vertical tasting in the sense that you use a Junmai, Ginjo, and Daiginjo.

    Other "excursions" that are fun include doing a Junmai tasting with one Honjozo, or a Ginjo tasting with one Junmai Ginjo in the mix. The point is you try to figure which one is "not like the others."

    It is also fun to do a single brewery tasting featuring a Junmai, Ginjo, and Daiginjo from the same brewery to look for similarities even though the ingredients may vary.
  3. The BYOS Tasting

    A tasting as simple as each guest bringing a sake for all to try. This is easier for room temperature tastings, but in a bind you can toss all of the entrants into the freezer for 15 minutes. For comparison all "tasted" sakes should be the same temperature.

    A fun caveat on this tasting is all the tasters refund the person who brings the winning sake. (This encourages far better sakes!)
Again, there are a ton of ways to enjoy sake in a party situation, but the best tastings are ones where each person feels comfortable enough to speak up about the sakes that they like and dislike. There is nothing worse than when people succumb to the peer pressure of tasters who try to influence others to their likes and dislikes. That's why score cards are fun and more individual.

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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