Confused about Sake? You are not alone!
There are no doubt misconceptions, such as drinking Sake hot; only goes well with Japanese food; is made with rice only and we are to drink it as is. Well, thanks to Masa Shiroki, the genius behind Artisan Sake Maker (604-685-7253 www.osake.ca) at Granville Island where he makes small batches of premium Sake locally, we get a much better understand of how Sake should be appreciated. He’s also the sake ambassador, the passionate wine-maker that introduced the fine arts of Sake making into BC.
In a recent ‘Sake Re-visited’ dinner held at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro (833 Granville Street. 604.687.6622 www.shuraku.net), Masa-san greeted the guest with an array of his own Osake labeled Sake as well as imported sake wines. Executive Chef Masahiro Omori enhanced the evening with a uniquely crafted tasting menu. Dishes like Dashi stock marinated Brussels sprout leaf on sushi rice; Orange infused egg tofu and Japanese sliders were my first.
According to him, Sake is best served lightly chilled. Why, that is when the wine is at its prime! While the fragrant of warmed sake is released into the air and taking its distinctiveness with it, but like chilled wine, the aroma, flavour subtlety retain in chilled sake. Expand your wine categories - be it western cooking, Asian cuisine or Japanese repast, chilled sake is now a good choice to be had. Yes, if you go visit Masa-san in his Artisan Sake Maker bourtique winery, you can discover and sample the different varieties of sake.
We all know rice is the key ingredient, but premium sake calls for premium grade rice. Farming, handling, choosing and then grinding of the rice are all important steps. Other ingredient such as sweet potato is also used to enhance the flavour and sweetness; and combining with rice and sake is an effective way to manipulate the alcohol level and style.
The Osake-Junmai Sparkling Sake is crisp and light. The 25% sweet potato mix induces a seductive sweetness. This is a beautiful sparkling wine that starts off any gathering nicely.
Osake-Junmai Nama Genshu – A heavier but drier wine loaded with charming tropical fruit bouquet.
This wine pairs well with pork, beef and seafood dishes.
The Osake-Junmai Nama is creamy with a very gentle sweetness. Its cloudy character allows the flavour to intensify and is a good match with heavier dishes.
The Ochame Premium Shochu with red sweet potato is not common but is well-liked by discerning shochu fans. This is a wine that can be enjoyed on its own or served with mineral or soda water like a cocktail.
Toshimori Sakehitosuji-Jungin Black Junmai Jinjo is another full-bodied wine and is definitely loaded with character. This wine is soft, well-balanced and I love it with the beef sliders with sticky rice patties.
Osake Junmai Nigori – A cloudy wine with distinct flavours that goes well with spicy food
Sakehitosuji – Junbaishu is a plum sake and best enjoyed as a dessert wine. Filled with plum, prunes and spices, the fruit-forward aroma is easy to the nose and to the palate.