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Jinmyo

For God's Sake! Is There a Sake Sommelier out There?

165 posts in this topic

Are there any good sites out there for sake etiquette?

Not that I know of. Besides, is there such a thing as sake etiguette?

I know theres the pouring of others' drinks based on seniority/status,

Yeah, that's quite popular, but is that based on seniority/status?

but is there anything else involved besides a hearty kampai! ? For instance, is there anything that should be said when receiving a pour of sake from the owner of the establishment?

A simple "(aa) doumo" ((oh) thanks) should be fine. You can also say:

Doumo arigatou.

Arigatou.

Arigatou gozaimasu.

Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

Any specific way to drink from a masu? My wife is going to un upscale sake tasting and doesn't want to embarass herself.

According to one site, you hold a masu with your four fingers, and only your thumb on the rim, you put your lips on one corner, and sip sake. An interesting way to drink sake from a masu is to place some salt near the corner and sip sake with it. That's they way how a tsuu (connoiseur) drinks sake, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you are really a tsuu. :biggrin:

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We were fortunate to get seats at the counter for a kaiseki dinner which will be prepared by Masahara Seiya who defeated Morimoto 4-0 in Battle Angler Fish on the original Iron Chef series. The better half wants sake (but neither of us are very knowledgeable) and I was hoping for a sparkling wine or possibly a dry rose. We have no idea what the menu will be but since it is summer we expect ingredients representative of the season. Any and all suggestions will be deeply appreciated. Domo arigato!


"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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Sake has evolved in the last few years. Sake's have been brewed that are kept cold in storage and meant to be drunk cold rather than heated. I find them very refreshing with Jpanese food especially Sashimi. The type that we really like is the ones with rice lees in the bottle. The lees give a very smooth mouth feel. What i would actually do is to tell your server that you would like the servers to match the type of Sake to the course being served. I would'nt have a different type with each course because you may not be able to stand at the end of your meal! -Dick

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I would agree with the cold sake. There's absolutely nothing like it with traditional light Japanese fare. Good cold sake is smooth and smells heavenly, like flowers and fruit. I save the hot stuff for winter now.

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Thank you for the suggestions. The restaurant just obtained their liquor license so we have to byob, thus the inquiry here. The good news is we made our way to a local Japanese market and, by good fortune, their sake expert was in the store. He asked a funny question: did we want to impress the chef or enjoy what we drank? We told him we really didn't think it would be appropriate to try and impress the chef and we probably couldn't afford to do that anyway! He sent us off with a bottle of Suishin "Tenjomukyu" (on sale for $28.99) which should be served cold and invited us to a sake tasting on the morrow. There is plenty to learn and lots of sake to try.


"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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Pick up a bottle of Kubota "Senjyu" at Tamura's in Kaimuki for under $20 and drink it at ambient temp just like the fishermen in Niigata do with their fresh caught bounty.

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My understanding of the definitions is: Sake is not wine. It is actually closer to beer.

(wine can only be made from fruit)

I am curious if I am technically correct in this?

Is this a Eurocentric definition (the EU)?

or are the Japanese in agreement?

In the end --no big deal-sake is a wonderful beverage.

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I was looking at some recipes on Yahoo Japan and I saw a couple that had "À¶¼ò" (seishu?) as an ingredient. Is this a special type of sake?


Edited by sk_ward (log)

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I was looking at some recipes on Yahoo Japan and I saw a couple that had "À¶¼ò" (seishu?) as an ingredient.  Is this a special type of sake?

No, seishu is just another word for sake. I'm not sure, but I get the impression that when a recipe calls for "seishu" instead of "sake", it means you should use a proper drinking sake (rather than cheap cooking sake).


My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Seishu (清酒) is synonymous with nihon shu (日本酒) and sake (酒), but sake can mean any alcoholic drink besides seishu.

Cooking sake is ryouri shu (料理酒) or chouri shu (調理酒).

The greatest difference between seishu and cooking sake is that the latter usually contains salt so it doesn't fall under the sake category under Japan's Liqour Tax Law. I checked the cooking sake in the kitchen and found it contains 2.3% salt.

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I live in a snowy region in Niigata prefecture, Japan. There are two sake breweries in the former Shiozawa town (now part of a city). One is Aoki Shuzo. A famous brand of the brewery is Kakurei:

gallery_16375_5_47253.jpg

Most sake produced in Niigata prefecture are described as tanrei karakuchi (light and dry), but this particular brewery aims at making sake that keep umami inherent to sake intact.

Head office:

gallery_16375_5_3556.jpg

Factory:

gallery_16375_5_81158.jpg

An employee of the brewery is an acquaintance of mine. The other day, I asked him if I could visit the brewery, take photos, and post them to eGullet, and he replied yes. So, I think I'll visit the brewery soon.

By the way, the sake of the brewery are available at Sushi Samba and Megu in New York, according to the brewery.

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Is the writing indicating "No Sugar Added" on the label?


Leave the gun, take the canoli

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Thanks everyone for their replies.

Peter Green: OK, I'll ask them.

AzianBrewer: You're right. No sugar added (mu tou ka in Japanse) in the brewing process. The resulting sake is refreshing, aromatic, and crispy. It's good whether chilled, at room temperature, or hot. It's relatively cheap (1.8-liter bottle: 1,694 yen including 5% consumption tax). It's a great "table sake" here in the snowy region and loved by the locals. When I give a bottle of sake to someone as a gift, however, I usually select Kakurei Honjozo.

The brewery does make other types of sake, including daiginjo and junmai daiginjo:

http://www.kakurei.co.jp/syohin.htm

Daniel Rogov: Thanks for your comments. I browsed through the Beverages and Libations section and came to a conclusion that this forum would be the most appropriate. (I thought about posting it in the Adventures in Eating Forum too. :raz: )

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This is the mother water of Aoki Shuzo's sake:

gallery_16375_5_45254.jpg

The board says that the soft water is ideal for tanrei umakuchi (light and tasty) that the brewery aims at.

gallery_16375_5_134573.jpg

If you have any questions for the brewery, feel free to post. I will convey them to the brewery.

I'm planning to visit it next week.

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This is the mother water of Aoki Shuzo's sake:

gallery_16375_5_45254.jpg

The board says that the soft water is ideal for tanrei umakuchi (light and tasty) that the brewery aims at.

gallery_16375_5_134573.jpg

If you have any questions for the brewery, feel free to post.  I will convey them to the brewery.

I'm planning to visit it next week.

What kind of rice and koji do they used for there brews????


Leave the gun, take the canoli

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I went to the brewery today (Oct. 23). It's about a 5-minute bicycle ride from my house.

On my way there, I took a photo of the brewery's warehouse, located on Route 17.

gallery_16375_5_17754.jpg

It was cloudy, and the red board was hard to see. It says:

Sake associated with Suzuki Bokushi.

Founded in 1717.

Kakurei

Suzuki Bokushi was a writer who wrote "Hokuetsu Seppu" (Snow Country Tales: Life in the Other Japan

Amazon webpage

He was born in the former Shiozawa town in the Edo Period, and his second son took over the business as the eighth head of the brewery.

Inside the Head Office, where my acquaintance, Mr. Abe, greeted me:

gallery_16375_5_126166.jpg

Groundwater pumped from a 80-meter depth:

gallery_16375_5_76776.jpg

It is medium soft water.

Rice used to make sake:

gallery_16375_5_13307.jpg

Variety of sake used: Yamada Nishiki (often called the king of sake rice), Miyama Nishiki, Gohyaku Man Goku (used to make less expensive sake)

Goyaku Man Goku sake rice, produced locally in Urasa in Minami Uonuma city, milled to a milling rate of 60%

gallery_16375_5_19599.jpg

(Sorry, blurry)

This is a new, very expensive, custom-made rice washing machine!

gallery_16375_5_3848.jpg

After washed, the rice is drained

gallery_16375_5_104028.jpg

then transferred here

gallery_16375_5_87870.jpg

and then to this large pot for steaming:

gallery_16375_5_93571.jpg

Room for making koji:

gallery_16375_5_131141.jpg

Needless to say, different koji are used to make different brands. I asked for details, but they are trade secrets!

Containers in the shubo room:

gallery_16375_5_98251.jpg

Shubo is literally the mother of sake, translated into yeast mash, yeast starter, fermentation starter, etc.

Inside one container:

gallery_16375_5_51442.jpg

It takes two weeks to make shubo.

Moromi, day 1:

gallery_16375_5_73396.jpg

With the cover removed:

gallery_16375_5_132976.jpg

It is transferred to a tank.

This photo shows moromi after the end of sandan jikomi (triple brewing)

gallery_16375_5_78453.jpg

All other tanks were empty.

gallery_16375_5_79513.jpg

The brewery is at the very first stage of its kan zukuri (brewing in a cold season). Kan zukuri is said to produce good sake, and this brewery sticks to it, which means they make sake in the winter only.

In two months, the moromi is filtered

gallery_16375_5_64461.jpg

and the sake is stored in these tanks.

gallery_16375_5_122430.jpg

I asked my acquaintance about the selling points of the brewery. He replied that they invest large amounts of money on things for making good sake, not on things for mass-producing it.

This machine is one example:

gallery_16375_5_38926.jpg

It is used to control the water to the same temperature as rice.

The rice washing machine, shown earlier, is another. Again, it was custom-made and was very expensive, as detailed in the brewery's blog blog entry on Oct. 19 (sorry, Japanese only).

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What kind of rice and koji do they used for there brews????

As I mentioned upthread, they use Yamada Nishiki and Miyama Nishiki for expensive sake and Gohyaku Man Goku for less expensive ones.

As for koji, Mr. Abe said that they invest large amounts of money on koji as well as on machines and equipment, but since that's their trade secrets, he didn't give me a detailed explanation.

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A better photo of the warehouse:

gallery_16375_5_133497.jpg

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When I learned from Mr. Abe that their sake is available at Sushi Samba and Megu in the United States, this question occurred to me immediately:

Is their sake used as a cocktail base by any chance??

I asked him the question, and he replied that they have two knowledgeable people in the United States, one Japanese and one American, so that won't happen.

I felt relieved.

You can use cheaper sake as a cocktail base, but not Kakurei and other elaborate brands.

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So, what's your favorite sake; that is available in the U.S :hmmm: Somebody...anybody.......


Edited by Naftal (log)

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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Here are some of my favorites:

Hakushika Junmai Ginjo

Horin Gekkeikan Junmai Daiginjo

Yuki No Bosha limited edition Junmai Ginjo

Trader Joe's Sake (Yes, it is $10 and actually a good tasting sake. It is also made in Japan)

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In two months, the moromi is filtered

gallery_16375_5_64461.jpg

That's actually a sake press pictured--probably Yabuta brand--which squeezes liquid (to be filtered, usually through activated charcoal), from the fermented mash or "moromi". Moromi is left to ferment typically from 20-40 days, not always "two months" as noted, although this particular brew might indeed have spent 60 days as moromi. The entire process from rice milling to washing/soaking to koji-making to shobu-making (shobu is also called "moto") to moromi and pressing does typically take about two months.

thanks

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In two months, the moromi is filtered

gallery_16375_5_64461.jpg

That's actually a sake press pictured--probably Yabuta brand--which squeezes liquid (to be filtered, usually through activated charcoal), from the fermented mash or "moromi". Moromi is left to ferment typically from 20-40 days, not always "two months" as noted, although this particular brew might indeed have spent 60 days as moromi. The entire process from rice milling to washing/soaking to koji-making to shobu-making (shobu is also called "moto") to moromi and pressing does typically take about two months.

thanks

Thanks for your reply. I didn't know that this thread of mine, which I started in the Wine Forum, have been moved to this thread in the Japan Forum.

"In two months" is what Mr. Abe told me. I'm no expert on sake making, but I guess that the long brewing process is due to the facts 1) At this brewery, they make sake in the winter time only, when the temperature is low and 2) In Niigata, the water is soft, which means that brewing takes more time than with hard water.

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In two months, the moromi is filtered

gallery_16375_5_64461.jpg

That's actually a sake press pictured--probably Yabuta brand--which squeezes liquid (to be filtered, usually through activated charcoal), from the fermented mash or "moromi". Moromi is left to ferment typically from 20-40 days, not always "two months" as noted, although this particular brew might indeed have spent 60 days as moromi. The entire process from rice milling to washing/soaking to koji-making to shobu-making (shobu is also called "moto") to moromi and pressing does typically take about two months.

thanks

Thanks for your reply. I didn't know that this thread of mine, which I started in the Wine Forum, have been moved to this thread in the Japan Forum.

"In two months" is what Mr. Abe told me. I'm no expert on sake making, but I guess that the long brewing process is due to the facts 1) At this brewery, they make sake in the winter time only, when the temperature is low and 2) In Niigata, the water is soft, which means that brewing takes more time than with hard water.

Oh I did not mean to dispute your "two month" report, as Mr. Abe has said. How long the moromi ferments is up to the toji, of course.

The typical brewing season for all kuras is October through April. That's when the rice growing season is over and the crop has been harvested to prepare for brewing. Also, in the old days, sake was brewed by tens of thousands of small kuras, and the task of making sake gave farm workers something to do in the off-season. Farmers during the growing season, kurabitas in the winter! Brewing in winter also cuts down on the bacteria and other undesired microbes--Sake has been around for centuries, but pasteurization has not.

Niigata has some of the best local rice and water for sake, indeed. Hiroshima and Kobe areas also have some superb water for sake. Traditionally, kuras were built around the water sources, so important is the water to the quality of the end product.

thanks

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Hijack time. Or, rather, time to commandeer the thread. Nautical term.

 

DSC_0007_zpse62651f4.jpg

 

First up in the Official Sake and Assorted Rice-Based Booze Tasting ThreadTM is Takara Shuzo Co.'s Shochikubai Nigori Sake Junmai. My first taste of unfiltered sake. Served lightly chilled. Shaken. Poured into inappropriately-shaped glassware. Appearance, obviously, is cloudy. Almost like orgeat. Slightly milky texture but not as thick as I was expected. When I read about this stuff I envisioned something with the viscosity of Bailey's plus or minus a few lumpy bits. It's slightly sweet with a lemony sort of edge to it. Aroma of homebrew beer: yeasty, fermented. What you'd expect an unfiltered product to taste like, really. Berry. Blueberry, maybe. Fun misprint on the English language sticker suggests this bottle contains 21 standard drinks rather than 2.1. Which is fitting, really. This is pleasant enough, yeah, but clearly a little bit of unfiltered sake is a lot.

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