This issue explains how to enjoy sake sampling.

1. Audibly
Hearing is the first sense to enjoy sake. Please listen for the sound of sake pouring into the sake bottle and bubbles audibly forming in carbonated sake.

2. Visually
Once the sake is poured, please examine the sake inside the sake cup. The type of sake will generate differences in the shade of sake color, viscosity, clarity and sheen, etc.

3. Aroma
Next, gently inhale the sake aroma without shaking the sake cup. Determine the intensity of the aroma, high/low, how the aroma spreads, concentration, and durability. Try to detect the change afterwards.

4. Palate
Finally, sip and taste the sake on your palate. First, taste with the tip of the tongue, savor the flavor, and then further savor the sweetness, bitterness, acidity and umami flavor. Savor the sake flavor not only with the tongue, but focus the senses from the throat to the nasal passage to enjoy new discoveries.

Clear the mind of any preconceived notions and taste the sake with a fair mind. When sampling the sake, incorporating cheerful, fun terms utilizing as many expressions as possible in a brief summary is important.







#sake #flavor #aroma


Tokyo Jizake Strolling: (Nippon National Products Exhibition 2020) 

By Ryuji Takahashi

As nationwide restrictions imposed on events, etc., throughout Japan due to the Coronavirus pandemic relaxed in November, we covered the “Nippon National Products Exhibition 2020,” held over two days inside the Sunshine City Shopping Mall in Ikebukuro district, Tokyo. The event was cut short to 2 days instead of 3 days the previous year, with only half of the number of restaurant exhibitors compared to the previous year to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading. The venue implemented thorough countermeasures to prevent the spread of infection with a thorough ventilation system in full operation, a large fan on, and doors and windows open at all times. Only attendees and even vendors registered beforehand were allowed entry with hand sanitizers readily available to ensure a safe environment to prevent infection.
The event was reduced in scale, yet over 100 corporate exhibitors showcased over 1,000 regional specialty products, divided into 2 floors with each prefecture exhibiting a souvenir booth, a food court, and a jizake (regional sake) section offering samples starting from only 100 JPY, bustling with many customers. Of course, the booth attracting the most attention was the jizake section.
Approximately 100 jizake selections from 17 regions total (2 regions each from Tokyo, Fukui and Saga prefectures, along with Aomori, Akita, Fukushima, Tochigi, Niigata, Shizuoka, Gifu, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima prefectures) lined the booths with samples available starting from 100 JPY per cup, an irresistible section for sake fans. Each booth sold regional snacks, etc., a sure bet to compliment any sake. Recommendation booths with a kikisake-shi in attendance were available for customers not sure which sake to sample due to the vast selections available, along with various canned food products. Needless to say, sake can be sampled with various regional specialty snacks purchased from one of the souvenir floors.
This event could be a great opportunity for sake breweries to meet other breweries from various regions with whom they normally have few opportunities to interact. Strolling past the souvenir section on the evening of the second day, attendees can witness bargain sales starting for food products, another event to look forward to in the souvenir exhibit. I also strolled past booths for various regions, where I found smoked octopus for a discounted price at a booth by Hokkaido prefecture. I hesitated trying to decide how many packs to buy when the exhibitor gave me another discount, so I purchased 3 packs. The exhibitor pushed further saying this was the last day, so I received another discount to purchase 1 more pack.
I had an enjoyable day, receiving leftover regional snacks from sake brewery booths for free. I pray joyous events like this that brings smiles back to consumers, producers, and vendors will revive in various regions once the coronavirus pandemic ends, hopefully soon.



#tokyo #sake #jizake #ikebukuro #sakefair


Communicate the appeal of sake to customers

By Yuji Matsumoto

Happy New Years! We look forward to your continued support.

let’s consider when the appropriate timing is and how to communicate the appeal of Japanese sake in a way that leads to sales.

Consider who the message is directed to
Are chefs, servers, and bartenders trained appropriately? Training the staff to thoroughly understand why a brand of sake tastes delicious and why customers should try it is important because a single try will not be sufficient to understand even ten percent of the appeal of a brand. Therefore, please have staff try the sake paired with the cuisine.

Of course, a good place to start would be to have the servers change their ordering from “What can I get you to drink?” to “It’s cold outside, would you like to try some hot sake?” This suggestion alone is a major difference.

Speak informatively to customers in a way that generates a response like “Oh really?” For example, “How about AAA, a dry and refreshing sake from Niigata that goes great with sushi?” Or “Would you like to try BBB, a brand of sake from Akita that has body and goes great with teriyaki?” The point is to word the recommendations into easy-to-understand sales pitches that makes customers want to try the brand. Offer two to three different brands that range from reasonable to mid-range prices.





#sake #shochu #cocktail #recipes


“Business Projects Introduced Online by Sake Breweries during the Coronavirus Era: Part 2”

By Kosuke Kuji

In the midst of such discussions, singer Gen Hoshino launched “Come Dance at Our place,” a YouTube channel uploading copyright free parodies and dance videos from various viewers.
Sake breweries such as President Mitobe of the Yamagata Masamune Brewery, Yamagata Prefecture, started thinking of parodies such as “Come Drink at Our Place,” uploaded to YouTube channel and generated a buzz.
A discussion started on what would happen if sake breweries nationwide started singing “Come Drink at Our Place” resulted in cooperation among sake breweries nationwide to produce the below footage, uploaded to YouTube as follows.
We received words of encouragement from many sake fans that watched this footage.
Japanese sake is a traditional Japanese beverage that soothes the hearts of consumers and creates new motivation to start a new day. I’m overjoyed to know sake brewers nationwide coming together successfully motivated Japanese nationals and people worldwide suffering during the coronavirus pandemic. There must be something we can do as sake brewers, something only sake brewers can do to help. We recognized there were endless possibilities.

「コロナ時代の蔵元の発信事業 その2」


#Sake #Breweries #covid19 #coronavirus #pandemic #yamagata #masamune


Ways to Describe Japanese Sake

In this issue, we introduce terms to describe Japanese sake flavors, just like a sommelier for reference.

Terms to Describe the “Feel” of Japanese Sake
Delicate, silky smooth, sharp, strong, with no sharp edge, soft, gentle, balanced, full, well-rounded, viscous, smooth, fresh, mellow, mild, refreshing, subtle, slight.

Terms to Describe the “Aroma” of Japanese Sake
Spicy, clean, smooth, dry, refreshing, plump, scent like pine leaves, scent like Japanese angelica tree, scent like a grapefruit, scent like watercress, scent like a fuki plant, scent like a gingko tree.

Terms to Describe the “Flavors” of Japanese Sake
Well-rounded umami flavor, plump, full, slight, soft, mild, light, well-balanced, melting flavor, heavy, strong, fullness, gentle and relaxing.

So, what do you think about the terms used to describe the flavors of Japanese sake?
Terms easy to visualize are recommended when asked about the characteristics of Japanese sake. Since perception of taste is subjective, it’s best to use simple terms easy to understand.



日本酒の特徴について聞かれた時、相手もイメージしやすいわかりやすい言葉で伝えたい。 味覚は人それぞれだからこそ、理解しやすい言葉で表現することが大切。

#sake #flavor #aroma


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Restaurant Karibetei, Shimokitazawa District)

By Ryuji Takahashi

I am a Japanese sake expert and owner of a sake shop in Tokyo. However, that doesn’t mean I enjoy only sake. In fact, I’m a fan of Italian wine and drink as much wine as I do sake. Sometimes, I drink even more wine than I do sake. In this issue, I’d like to introduce an Italian restaurant I frequent once or twice a month.
Italian Restaurant “Karibetei” opened approximately 10 years ago in the Shimokitazawa district of Tokyo, bustling with young professionals and consumers. Karibetei is a simple restaurant serving Italian home cooking, opened by owner and chef Katsuichi Karibe, a former colleague and superior to me at an Italian restaurant we worked at. Originally from Tochigi prefecture, Karibe is a skilled Japanese calligrapher in addition to chef, a charismatic individual featured in many newspaper and magazine articles. His restaurant is clean with no flashy Italian décor, a comfortable restaurant that reminded me of a simple Italian eatery I patronized when I traveled to Italy. The wine list consists of carefully hand-picked selections chosen by Karibe himself, priced reasonably around 3,000 JPY per bottle, great news for wine fans like myself.
Since I visited in the fall, the menu consisted of Squash Gnocchi, Taro and Bacon Fritters, Pacific Saury Confit Spaghetti, and other seasonal fall menu selections. The Shimokitazawa district happened to be in the middle of the “Shimokitazawa Curry Festival” held lavishly once a year where Karibetei also exhibited a booth among many visitors attending to enjoy the very popular squid ink curry.
The taro fritters arrived first. The chewy taro texture is highly compatible with the egg flavor. Finishing off the beer, I switched right over to red wine. Next, I ordered Mozzarella cheese with anchovy crostini. The term crostini apparently means small toast. The bread highly compliments the Mozzarella cheese, and before I knew it, my wine bottle was empty.
I ordered another bottle of wine, Grilled Sardine and Tomato Layers, and Horse Meat Carpaccio. Sardine was highly compatible with tomato, while the horsemeat carpaccio was refreshing and enticed more wine. Lastly, I ordered the Black Wagyu Beef Tagliata. The simple flavoring and exquisite grilling surely compliment the red wine. Before I knew it, I opened my third bottle of wine. Afterwards, I enjoyed a conversation with the chef and his wife over a few delightful bowls of spumoni and concluded the meal. I visit the restaurant monthly, yet I still discover new flavors every visit, a restaurant that never tires. Karibetei is truly one of the leading restaurants among the various Italian restaurants operating in Tokyo.

東京地酒散歩(下北沢 かりべ亭)

#tokyo #sake #jizake #shimokitazawa


Casual Pairing of Sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

In this issue, I’d like to report on a secret to enhance pairing of Japanese cuisine with sake.
First, please have three brands of Japanese sake with very different properties.

For example, select Junmai Daiginjo, Tokubetsu Junmai, and Junmai Kimoto from different regions.
Glasses used for the three sake brands must have the same shape. Chill the sake in the refrigerator at approximately 55 degrees F for three hours prior to serving.

As for the cuisine, they can be prepared in advance if time allows. If not, if you want to try several different dishes to compare, then take out is recommend. For example, trying Chinese and Italian cuisine (avoid foods strong in flavor or garlic) is fun.

For the order of sampling, be sure to start with sake made from rice with the highest milling: from Daiginjo – Tokubetsu Junmai – Junmai. The most important aspect of sampling sake is to sip the sake, sample the cuisine, then drink the same brand of sake again.
If umami or a wide range of rich flavors are detected, then the pairing is considered a success. Also, if the appetite increases, this is also a good outcome.
Japanese sake goes surprising well with unexpected dishes (like cheese or steak), so please try pairing without biases for interesting discoveries.



#sake #shochu #cocktail #recipes


“Business Projects Introduced Online by Sake Breweries during the Coronavirus Era: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

The novel COVID-19 coronavirus is sweeping across Japan and worldwide. In the midst of the pandemic, one Japanese sake brewery started a business to revive Japan.
Since March when the coronavirus infection started to spread, many sake breweries started to stay home nationwide.
Usually, March is when newly produced sake is completed as sake production dwindles down, and many breweries start to make their rounds visiting customers to introduce their new sake.
Sake breweries make their rounds to ask various industry professionals for feedback sampling their new sake. However, the breweries cannot make their rounds this year.
Therefore, sake breweries decided to start a discussion amongst them and launched a weekly online sake-sampling event, “Online Brewery Sampling Event,” on Sunday nights on Zoom. Initially launched with few attendees, the network of breweries expanded to include more breweries over time.
Initially, there were negative discussions surrounding various concerns from anxiety and impatience. However, the tide changed to a positive direction visualizing the world after the coronavirus pandemic and what sake breweries could do to prepare.

「コロナ時代の蔵元の発信事業 その1」


#Sake #Breweries #covid19 #coronavirus #pandemic


This issue is about changes in sake aroma.

Sake aroma is mellow when first poured, but changes over time. For example, the gradually released aroma of flowers and fruits increases the complexity of the sake aroma, ultimately dissipating into a faint, spicy aroma.

Sake aroma changes over time in the following 3 phases:
1. First Aroma Note: Sake aroma first generated when the nose is close to the glass.

2. Second aroma generated from air mixing into the sake. This aroma is detected when fragrance components react to the oxygen in the air.

3. Lingering Aroma: Aroma generated from a small amount of sake remaining in the glass after the sake is consumed.

Changes to the sake aroma that occur while consuming sake are thought to be generated from the sake aroma mixing with air, changes in temperature, difference in aroma components, etc.
Sake flavors are largely divided into four major factors - sweetness, bitterness, sourness and umami flavor – and also by various factors.
Sake aroma can be expressed and enjoyed in unlimited ways. Sake flavor is sweet in addition to bitter when first tasted. Also, the temperature, the initial aroma when first tasted and balance are also important factors.
Why not try expressing the various flavors in your own words? Organizing the complex qualities of sake flavors difficult to grasp could reveal new ways to savor various sake.



#sake #flavor


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Business Trip back to Niigata Prefecture)

By Ryuji Takahashi

I write a monthly column for a publication specializing in Japanese sake. One day, I received a phone call from the owner of Shiokawa Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. in Niigata prefecture, who read my column and invited me to their brewery to sample their sake products.
Simply put, my column is best described by a statement made by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “Better know nothing than half-know many things. Rather be a fool on one’s own account than a wise man in the opinion of others.” As the Japanese sake industry appears to sway in today’s information age, his statement perhaps best describes the sentiment of pure sake fans and shops alike.
The owner of Shiokawa Brewery said, “Our brewery is truly self-reliant in shamelessly treading our own path to brew sake our way.” The sake I sampled were each one of a kind with surprising fragrance, color, and flavor, peaking my interest in Shiokawa Brewery. I had to pay a visit. I took a day trip and drove to Niigata prefecture. Just like last time, I stopped over to savor local Niigata ramen at “Anpukutei-Kandaten” in Kandamachi (Kanda town), Nagaoka city on the way.
I ordered soy sauce flavored ramen prepared from boiled/dried Tsubame-sanjo sardine broth with back fat floating on the soup surface. The usual bottomless green onions were not available during this trip. The boiled/dried sardine broth in ramen served in Tokyo tends to taste too strong. However, the back fat neutralizes the exquisite sardine-flavored broth combined with concentrated soy sauce flavor into a delicious, flavorful finish.
Afterwards, I headed to the Shiokawa Brewery in Nishi ward, Niigata city to meet the brewery owner Kazuhiro Shiokawa and Professor Ito of Niigata University’s Faculty of Agriculture. Shiokawa Brewery’s most recognized sake products are the “NOPA” developed in Bali, and the “Kimotokei KODAI” brewed from ancient rice with a red, wine-like hue; winner of the Gold Prize at the Milano Sake Challenge 2019.
Both are low in alcohol content with acidic flavor and aroma, no doubt interesting to chefs serving Italian cuisine. Other sake products include “COWBOY YAMAHAI,” notable for its acidic flavor from the Yamahai brewing method, highly suitable for export overseas due to its high compatibility with meat dishes; and “FISHERMAN SOKUJO,” notable for its rich flavor in no way inferior to white wine when served with fish dishes, also compatible with seafood dishes strong in umami flavors like crab and shrimp dishes, etc.
What further captivated my interest and impressed me about Shiokawa Brewery is their determination NOT to create Japanese sake compatible with western cuisine like wine, but their steadfast resolve to brew sake in every way competitive against wine. To say Shiokawa Brewery broke the mold of Japanese sake production with their original concept that could conquer the world would not be an exaggeration.
However, Shiokawa Brewery also holds steadfast to guarding traditional sake brands, a brewery not in anyway eccentric, but a unique brewery like no other that stands out in their vision and approach to developing new brands and overcoming challenges. When it comes to sake, I’m often called a freak. However, Shiokawa Brewery is one brewery I would like to express my utmost admiration by respectfully referring to them as a sake freak.

お会いし話す事が出来た。塩川酒造の酒の中で特徴的な物は、新潟大学の協力の中、バリ島で造った「のぱ」やイタリアのミラノ酒チャレンジ2019で金賞を受賞した古代米を使い赤ワインの様な色の「生酛系古代」である。両方とも低アルコールで酸味と香りが特徴。イタリアンの料理人なら絶対興味を持ってしまう酒である。その他にも海外輸出を意識し肉に合わせる為にしっかりとした山廃仕込みの酸を感じさせている酒「COWBOY YAMAHAI」や魚料理で白ワインにも引けをとらないコクと風味で蟹や海老の様な旨味の強い魚介系にも合わせられる「FISHERMAN SOKUJO」などが有る。私が塩川蔵元に興味をより一層持ち、凄さを感じたのは、洋食に合わせられるワインの様な日本酒では無く、ワインに負けない日本酒を造ろうとしていることである。塩川酒造は、日本酒造りの概念の殻を打ち破り世界征服が出来るくらいの発想で酒造りを行っていると言っても良いだろう。しかし、伝統的な銘柄もしっかり守り通しており、決して奇抜な酒蔵というわけでは無く、新たなブランド作りやチャレンジの部分が見据える先が他の酒蔵と違うのだろう。私は日本酒の事になると、よく変態と言われる。しかし私など足元にも及ばぬ日本酒の最上級の尊敬をもって変態と呼ばせていただきたい酒蔵である。

#tokyo #sake #jizake #nigata


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