May 27, 2016
7 Sips of Sake Wisdom
There’s a lot more to sake than slamming sake bombs. This ancient alcoholic rice beverage, has a lot more in common with wine than you may think. If you do it right, it just may turn a meh meal, into the best meal.
Here are 7 sips of wisdom that will step up your sake game and totally impress your friends the next time you come face-to-face with a sake menu.
1. Socky, Sacky, sah-key. When it comes to the most butchered Japanese words, this is probably top 10. It’s sah-kay, people. Say it with us, SAH-KAY. Now, repeat that 207 times.
2. Different flavors to savor. There are many different types and grades of sake, but only the top six grades will categorize whether it is considered a premium sake which depends on how much the rice is milled and polished before sent away to ferment. Once you try a few, you’ll realize the flavors range from light and fragrant, like that in a Daiginjo, to flavors that are fuller and even a tid-bit acidic, like what you’ll taste in a Junmai sake. And because there are hundreds of different types of rice to mill and brew, your options are nearly limitless!
3. Gulp…but it’s cloudy! C’mon, guys. It’s not THAT scary. Sake clarity varies by the type of sake and whether it is filtered, or unfiltered. Nigori, or unfiltered sake, is cloudy but sweeter in taste, which make it a perfect counterpart for a spicy dish (try it with an order of the Spanish Fly or Spicy Tekka rolls). Order a bottle, give it a good shake to mix in the hidden flavors hiding in the sediment and pour. Easy-peasy. Now, round up a few friends and try something new!
4. Look for the good stuff. It’s important to know how to distinguish the difference between the good stuff, and the Natty Light of the sake. Next time you’re scanning the sake list, look for Gingo (meaning premium), and Junmai (meaning best). That’s going to gain you some high-quality rice street cred right there.
5. You get what you pay for. Much like wine, the price of your sake does dictate quality and flavor. Decent bottles of sake at a restaurant go for about $30, and go up from there. But, you can step up your premium Japanese rice beverage culture factor without busting your budget by visiting Blue Sushi Sake Grill on a Tuesday, for half-off premium cold sake bottles. This way you can share some quality sake sips of Sho Chiki Bai (Junmai Nigori) and Haguro Honjozo, a full-bodied sake with subtle hints of melon, ranging in price. Here’s a Tip: Round up your friends and split the bill.
6. 3-ingredient recipe. Sake is made with three ingredients. Rice, water and koji. Assuming you know what the first two ingredients are, we’ll get right to the third. Koji is a magical mold that is used during the fermenting process that helps break down the starches into sugars. It’s brilliant, and yet, sake is the only beverage on earth currently using this method.
7. Stay young & cool. Young and fresh is always best (when it comes to sake, that is). It’s not an alcohol you want to age, so check the dates on the bottle and try to drink it before it hits the 18-month mark. And, like that hipster friend of yours, premium sake should be kept cool and served chilled. If you talk to a sake aficionado, he/she would tell you it should be served between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
If that’s not enough to pique your interest, sake has health benefits (including reducing your chance of death…whaaa?), but we will let you soak this in before we get into that.