“Sake” It to Me


Sushi restaurants are proliferating like cherry blossoms in spring across the U. S., challenging pizza parlors as a source for our favorite foreign food. Ironically, as young Japanese in their home country are switching to beer, whiskey, and wine, American customers are looking for an authentic alcoholic alternative to match with sushi, sashimi, and other Japanese dishes. No surprise then to see sales of sake, wine produced from rice rather than grapes, grow over 50% in the last decade.

Unfortunately, many consumers order generic sake in the same way they might call for a glass of bar wine without realizing its vast and complex possibilities. Inexpensive sakes are light years away from their excellent counterparts just as vin ordinaire differs from great Cabernets. Top-of-the-line rice wines have complex fruit flavors and aromas produced by breweries of significantly individual wines.

Adventuresome consumers who like sake and who are interested in quality should search out special Ginjos, or extra-special Daiginjos. Their producers use time-consuming. traditional methods to attain flavorful wines with finesse, starting with carefully polished, special starchy rice with a translucent coating instead of ordinary table rice. The first step reduces the rice to 60% of its original weight. After that, it requires a delicate process of fine-tuning and hands-on attention to timing that accounts for the cost of $30 to $85 a bottle.

Try an adventuresome jump to a lean, focused sake that makes an excellent partner to Western dishes. Despite the current preference for warmed sake in the States, aficionados of` sake affirm it tastes better served cool. Some believe heating a superb, top of the line sake amounts to a sacrilegious as serious as warming a fine Bordeaux. Sake can be enjoyed in a wine goblet as well as the cups most often served in a Japanese restaurant.




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