August 2019

Sake Exploration – 3 Tasty Tricks To Take Your Sake Understanding Further

Posted by Beau Timken in 2019, August, Newsletter, Tasting

Are you getting sake lazy? What the hell is sake lazy? Basically do you think that you know it all or have seen it all in the sake world? Are you bored? Are you tired of your same old same old? Well step right up to these three mini “tricks” that will take your sake appreciation further and make it more fun. 

 

Sake Trick Number One – Make Your Nigori Work For You!


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  • (In Photo, Kurosawa Nigori) Yes they still exist! Nigori sake drinkers are still on the sake radar screen, and rightfully so! It’s a fun and easy segment that I used to call the “Gateway Drug” to real sake. But that’s unfair! So let’s say you are a Nigori fan and you want to try something new with your brew. Also for those who are not particularly fans of Nigori sake this is still a fun little trick that reaffirms the notion that “the proof is in the pudding.” In this context the pudding are the “lees” or the unfermented rice particles that make Nigori “Cloudy Sake.”

  • Take a bottle of Nigori sake and do not shake it up! Do not undulate the lees so they all remain on the bottom of the bottle. Now gently open the cap and pour a portion of the sake into a glass. This should not have any of the unfermented rice particles in it. Now take a second glass that should be exactly the same shape and size of the first and pour in an equal amount of Nigori sake that has been shaken, so that the clouds are all through the bottle and subsequently in the glass. 

  • Now taste the clear fluid first! Then taste it again. Does it taste like Nigori sake? Now taste the gently stirred glass that has cloudy Nigori in it! What’s the difference? It’s the same sake! Or is it? Do the unfermented rice particles affect the flavor? Why? If they are unfermented it means what? Could it possibly mean that the lees are sweeter than the fermented fluid? Hmmmmm? 

Sake Trick Number Two – Get Your Glass In Gear!


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  • (In Photo, Heiwa Shuzo KID Junmai Daiginjo) Yup! By now you basically know that every time I review a sake I use three different sized vessels. And after all of these years you have not! Seriously, have you ever ventured out of your sake comfort zone? Or is it your favorite sake again, in your favorite glass again and that’s life? Hmmmmmm! This is where I yell, “Get your glass in gear!” 

  • Sake is such an amazing beverage that often we overlook some of the awesomeness. Why? Because it’s tasty and we are trying to relax when we get our booze on. But enlightenment can be just as sexy and just as fun! So breakup your routine. Grab a larger glass than usual. Grab a smaller glass than usual. Then grab your usual glass or ceramic vessel, or favorite pottery piece from Kyoto. And then taste taste taste. 

  • We always talk about the movement of acidity and your senses. We talk about where fluid hits your palate and what happens first, then second, then third. But each sip is a story, so it’s time to change up your story. Different sized glasses makes drinking sake more of an adventure than just an experience. Fruity brews and very clean brews are two good choices when wanting to goof around. There were be sweetness and smoothness revelations that will hopefully pull you out of your sake sleepwalking. 

Sake Trick Number Three – Junmai Sake and Green Olives Are the Perfect Pairing


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  • (In Photo, Nechi Otokoyama Yamahai Junmai) Say what? Yup! You read it right. Junmai sake and green olives are the bomb. So what! Soooo what? What are you talking about? Haven’t you ever been in a pairing pinch when called upon to bring a dish or two to a party? This combination is rock solid even when so broad in nature! “Wait a second pal!” “There are so many green olive types, and even more Junmai types. What gives?” In my four hundred and forty seven years of drinking sake I have been fortunate enough to taste many exact awesome pairings. Really spot on connections between sake and cuisine. 

  • And of course there are many generalities that also go into the pairing culture like sashimi and clean Junmai Ginjo, Yakitori and Honjozo, and Kijoshu and chocolate cake. But for an even more slam-dunk generality pairing spin two wheels, one with green olive types and one with Junmai brands and you will hear the ding ding winner bell every time. 

  • So this is a not so gentle reminder that you need to get Junmai sake and green olives like Cerignola into your life! 

 


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