Week 13 in the Year of Drinking Adventurously. Saké.
Saké, the traditional potent potable of Japan, is not a spirit, not a wine -like many believe (the term rice wine is a misnomer) and not exactly a beer either. It is made from rice in a brewing process better described by Jeff’s book (which I hope you have all purchased by now!):
I will try to synopsize: Rice is polished to remove the bran, the rice is used to make the fermentable mash from which the saké is distilled. The amount of polishing of the rice determines the type of saké that results. This is a ridiculous oversimplification.
The finished product is a clear beverage weighing in at about 15% alcohol. So here’s my saké story… I invested in a premium bottle, a Japanese import. Drank a glass with a lovely Asian dish prepared at home, on Saturday evening. I was not impressed. I didn’t think it tasted… well, like anything, actually. It was very mild -so much so that I couldn’t even pick up any of the subtleties one might taste in a wine or beer, for example. Just to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I actually contacted Jeff about it. He told me the flavors are often delicate. But, he also informed me the brand I bought sucks! Ha! My bad! Should’ve asked before I spent $45. C’est la vie…
I went back to the liquor store for another go, this time, armed with a recommendation from the author. Turns out about $15 will buy a nice domestic sakè: Momokawa Organic Sakè made in Oregon. Man, what a difference! It actually tasted like stuff! I’m still having a hard time describing it. It’s more like wine (maybe sherry, but lighter) than anything else, but not quite. I drank it slightly cooler than room temperature, not cold. Because I literally came home, unscrewed the cap and drank it straight from the bottle. Yeah, I know…. But in my defense, I was pressed for time. It warms on the way down! Sakè may be served heated, too. That did not appeal. I am pleasantly surprised. I am so glad I went back and tried again. Or else I would have been left with the wrong impression. And since it might be easy to forget you’re drinking a potent potable because of the light and delicate flavor, I’ve included some Japanese wisdom – don’t be the nail that sticks out! 😀
Oh, and Godzilla’s excited for you to try it. (You really didn’t think I could go to Japan and not include Godzilla, now did you?) Go visit Lula to see how she drank her sakè!