Whatever your choice of Sake—
Tomorrow is Nihonshu no Hi, or World Sake Day, the Japanese rice booze that’s brewed a bit like beer yet behaves more like wine.
The first time I tasted sake was in Tokyo, sipping from a square wooden masu cup. These days, I enjoy my sake from a wine glass, to bring out its delicate aromas and flavours. In fact, many of the examples I’ve tipped this week are comparable to wine in their level of alcohol, and are stunning served between 5 and 10C. If you open a bottle, you don’t have to sip it all at once – most sake will keep for a week or two in the fridge.
Sashimi and sushi fit hand in glove, but pour sake with pork chops, alongside ceviche, with melted cheese or mushrooms on toast and be amazed. And you don’t have to travel to Japan to get your hands on the good stuff. At a recent event with Sake Samurai, my top bottle of the night was Daiginjo Genshu Tenpyo Tosatsuru Sake, which you can find on Amazon for £48.95 (17.5%, 500ml). Many drinks shops stock sake, or hunt online via japancentre.com.
Sake is even being made here in the UK. Kanpai Sake set up in 2016 by Tom and Lucy Wilson has a ‘nanobrewery’ in Peckham, and look out for the new Dojima Sake Brewery in Cambridgeshire.
Whether sparkling, cloudy, unpasteurised or pristine as a mountain brook, the range of flavours is almost as rich as its thousands of years of history.
OLLY’S PICK OF THE BUNCH
BRILLIANT BUBBLES: Mio Sparkling Sake (5%, 300ml) £11.98 japancentre.com. Fruity, sweet and fizzy, this is a gorgeous aperitif or serve chilled with spicy dishes.
FABULOUS WITH FISH: Dewasakura Shuzu ‘Oka’ Ginjo Sake Yamagata (15%, 300ml) £13.75 bbr.com. Cherry scented purity and absolutely amazing with sushi and sashimi.
TOAST A WINNER: Akashi-Tai Sake, Honjozo Tokubetsu (15%, 330ml) £14.40* Majestic. Nuances of pear and honeydew melon – pairs splendidly with mushrooms on toast! *Mix Six price
ONE FOR DEL BOY: Kanpai Cloudy Nigori Sake (15%, 330ml) £15 boroughwines.co.uk. Made in Peckham. Pair with noodle soups or even a ham sandwich. Brilliant.
SAKE OF THE WEEK
Tatenokawa 50 ‘Stream’ Junmai Daiginjo (14%, 720ml) £30 tengusake.com. Splendid purity, delicacy and lightness. Stunning with shellfish.