Friday, June 26, 2009

The Sake Experience

This months Wine Bloggers Wednesday assignment, the Sake Challenge, was posed by Richard Auffery (@RichardPF)

For many years I thought of sake as something to avoid. I’d only had it hot and in my experience it was worse than drinking dishwater straight out of the dishwasher. Not my favorite kind of flavor profile.

But the first time I really got a sense of the realm of Sake was at the now closed Grasshopper in the Rockridge area of Berkeley. They offered sake flights and it was a great way to contrast and compare them. I learned that Sake can range in flavor from super sweet to very dry. They also range in price and some can be very expensive. Most sake is clear but some are unfiltered (nigori) and look cloudy. I don't like drinking cloudy stuff. (think Horchata for example) So I stayed away from the unfitered style.

My tastes run towards clear, ultra fragrant, pricey and dry. Like Yumedono, a Junmai /Daigino style sake that is closer to a fine white wine experience than sake. Even though it is technically a wine made of rice, I tend to think of wine as something that comes from grapes.

One of my favorite “go –to” sakes is Hasumago (first grandchild). It's fragrant and dry and it goes well with all types of food. It's a good choice when you have a long list of selections and not sure what to order.

For this WBW segment I tried two "new-to-me" sakes.

First I tried Kurosawa Kimoto. I ordered it because I like Kurosawa movies and the style --junmai-- sounded like "Jambi" the genie from Pee Wees Playhouse. Anyway TV and movie references aside, I found this sake easy to drink with a light citrus fragrance and a smooth lemony juniper flavor. It paired well with Yakitori.

I also tried Onikoroshi, a Daiginjo style that was also dry and delicate but more floral than fruity in fragrance. This sake tasted more interesting to me with a fuller flavor and more acidity. It also seemed much stronger than the Kurosowa Kimoto, but that may just have been a function of timing and volume, since I drank it after the Kurosowa and more of it.

This was a fun little assignment and I learned more than expected. The world of Sake certainly deserves more research on my part. But if you're looking for something new to drink, give sake a try. I'm sure you'll find one with your name on it.

Arigato and Syornaya


  1. If you ever make it up to Seattle, check out a place downtown called Sake Nomi. It's a place that is dedicated specifically to selling lots of different kinds of Sake. They have a mailing list too for special events, and often talk about different kinds of Sake and what they go well with. :)

    Also, there's an Asian grocery chain called Uwajimaya that has an excellent low to high quality selection.

  2. Marcy, thanks very much for participating in WBW #59. I have had both the Kurosawa and Onikoroshi, and really liked the Onikoroshi. I actually had it recently at a wine dinner with several people who knew little of Sake. Most of them really enjoyed it too.



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