Sake Twins – No Two Sakes Are Alike But….
It’s been a common refrain all these years of selling sake – “I really like Sake X, do you have anything like that?” Ha! There are so many replies that we have cultivated over the past decade. One of my favs is when I simply say, “There are no two woman who are exactly the same.” (The same can be said for men, but not snowflakes as I recently read a study that in fact identical snowflakes do occur!)
And my point is? If you are married to a particular sake it will never be replicated in another brew! Each sake is so unique and different – totally individualistic. That said there are a ton of common elements and traits in sake that you can get in a general ballpark with two similar sakes. (On a side note – when I am professionally tasting sake at large competitions that feature well over 500 entrants I often ask myself “didn’t I just taste that brew?” But that’s more a function of lots of competition sakes are crafted the same.)
And then came the moment for that one bottle that I wanted to blow everybody’s socks off and I proceeded to open the wonderfully shaped vessel. I personally love the sake and I knew that the table would go bonkers for the brew that I will not name. All eyes were on me as I started explaining the reason why I had saved that sake for last. I told the group that if we did the old “You are on a deserted island and you had one bottle of sake what would it be?” that brew would be in the running. I’m sure my face was beaming!
And then I smelled the opened bottle. Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr crash smash hoooooooooooonk! The off aroma felt like a car crash and I am sure my face dropped and my body wilted. Oh no I said to myself. The nose was bad. The nose was musky! This sake had a total and completely wrong aroma, which told me that it had changed in the bottle. I won’t bore you with the technical terms of what happened, but let’s just say the sake that I had cherished and saved for the finale had gone bad! Why? (The good news is that it’s such great sake that even the damaged version was very tasty, and it did not dampen the spirits of the evening!)
So are there sets of sakes that are “the same”? You bet! And since we have been doing this for such a long time we have accumulated that information to help sell “other” sakes. It’s true! Sake sellers including the awesome team at True Sake often get in a rut where we like selling certain sakes and continually push those brews. Likewise we get our amazing repeat customers who come in – make the walk to where their favorite brew resides in a fridge or on a shelf – grab it and head for the counter without saying a word or asking for help (recommendation.) They are in a sake groove. We noticed this early on and tried to help shake things up.
Drinking sake is a luxury and there is no right or wrong way to enjoy the greatest libation ever made. But as purveyors it is our job to provide variety! As customers, it is your job to demand variety. That is when we get folks asking the great question such as “I love Wakatake Junmai Daiginjo, do you have anything else similar to this sake?” You betcha! I usually ask if the customer has ever tried Dewazakura Junmai Ginjo and voila a “Sake Twin” was created and enjoyed.
We often ask, “What sort of sake do you like?” It’s a pretty easy question, but it’s also hard as hell for some! “Ummmm I like (pause) Ummmm (another pause) you know Ummmm (longer pause) Smooth sakes.” Ah! The old smooth sake category! That’s a pretty big segment, so we mine more. We drill for information. Do you like a little sweetness, dryness, fatness, directness, or cleanness? And slowly we start to build the “other woman.” We collect the likes and dislikes and using our own vast mental sake database we group sakes together and usually we are pretty darn close! It’s not often a customer comes back and says, “Whoa! That was a terrible comparison, they weren’t even close!” Actually it’s usually the opposite!
I won’t mention any names, but I did venture off on another sake endeavor not long ago and I created a huge database of “If you like this sake you will like these sakes!” It took a long time and it was and still is a powerful filtering tool. And we have done the same at True Sake and it will be noticeable when we revamp the website! What? What did you say? Yup! We are going to give the website a new look and it will tie into our new True Cup website! (Let us know if you have a knack for doing these types of things and we may just pull you on board Team True Sake.)
In the mean time to get a taste of twins, why not check out our wine and sake twins recommendations at the website. Go to the home page of the website, and look in the section called “No Clue?” We have a bunch of sake recommendations, but more importantly we put together a great list of wines and sakes that drink a lot like twins – as much as a grape and a rice kernel can be similar! Click the tab that says “Hey Wine Lovers” and put us to the test! If you can speak to your wine likes we can offer a twin of the rice kind!
So are there two identical sakes? Nope! There are simply too many variables found in the very short list of ingredients in sake. Just think about wine! Then realize that we have a couple more components, which makes it virtually impossible. But we believe in Sake Twins or Sake Doppelgangers! We believe that certain sets of sakes can and have so many similar attributes that they will drink the same for you and your palate. To prove this point, check out our Top Ten List for April where we have created a list of Ten Sake Twins.