Friday, February 25, 2011

A Little Bit About: Sake

Here is a little post that I found on Serious Eats. It is about proper Sake drinking. I decided to compile this post and some other information that I have gathered, into one informative post about SAKE!!

So, here goes:

A Little Bit About: Sake

Juyondai - fruity and fragrant
Isojiman - rich
Kubota - light and dry
Koshi no Kanbai - light and dry
Michizakari - full and dry
Kikusui - light and dry
Hakkaizan - slightly full and fry
Urakasumi - balanced
Koro - fruity and fragrant
Kokuryu - earthy and rich
Denshu - rice-laden and rich
(From Sake-World)

The best glassware for drinking Sake is actually a wine glass. No need for the fancy little Sake cups that are abundant in Japanese shops. A wine glass that is already in your pantry is even better! Why is a wine glass better? Because it gives the Sake room to release its aroma. Once it is poured, you should check out the Sake's color. It should be clear, but it may have some pale yellow or even greenish hues. Once the color turns brown, or tan, its past its prime. It should also be free of floating debris, unless it is a specific type (nigori) which is meant to be cloudy.

After the Sake is poured and the color is inspected, give it a few swirls in the glass and take a whiff. You should look out for fruity, floral, and earthy scents. If you smell burnt or musty in your Sake, it has gone bad. Some Sake (rustic) has smoky and rice-centric aromas while others (unpasteurized) are more fruity and fresh. There are 3 different aroma stages in drinking Sake. The first is "uwadachi-ka" or "initial smell" (fruity) which is what you smell before tasting. The second is "fukumi-ka" or "new fragrances" (bitterness) which are the smells that you breathe in while sipping. Last is "modori-ka" or "finish" (peppery) which are the more subtle smells present after sipping.

The flavor of the Sake should match the aromas. For example, if you smell a mushroom-esque aroma, it should taste earthy. Bad Sake has a sour taste. There are also varying degrees of sweetness present in different types of Sake, as well as Sake's that are more dry on the palate. The texture of the Sake should be light, but there are some that are richer and pack a more powerful punch.

Temperature is a great element to play with while drinking Sake. Start drinking it straight out of the fridge, then slowly sip it every now and then while it comes to room temperature. Pay attention to the flavors and aromas, and how they change. More earthy and richer Sake's tend to stand out more at room temperature, while more fruity ones are better when slightly chilled.

There are some important customs that surround Sake as well. When drinking sake, you should not fill your own cup or glass. It is polite to fill someone else's glass and then they, in turn, fill yours. It is also rude to turn down an initial offering of Sake, if it is offered again, it is now acceptable to say no thank you.

What I learned is that Sake drinking is very similar to wine. There are similar aspects in the the way and process of drinking, like swirling and sniffing, and sipping and temperature. There also variations in flavor depending on the region where the Sake was made, and the rice that was used. Same as with wine and the type of grapes used.

I found all this very interesting and cannot wait to taste my way through some sake in the near future! When I do, I will keep you posted!


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