Sake Nation “Seasonal Sake ③: Freshly squeezed draft sake”

By Kosuke Kuji

This series introduces the sake representative of each season. This report introduces the winter “draft sake.” 
Hot sake is delicious during the frigid winter season. Production starts with a new crop of sake rice harvested in the fall. New sake is first squeezed fresh from November into December. 
Many sake breweries release new freshly squeezed sake from sake rice harvested that year as a winter limited edition draft sake.    
New sake is fresh in aroma and flavor, with some slightly carbonated from the gas in the mash. New sake is a winter limited edition sake commonly enjoyed in the frigid winter season from December to March.
The fresh flavor of new sake is highly compatible with white fish sashimi or oden steeped in dashi broth.   
Also, many sake breweries also release rich, freshly squeezed “unprocessed sake.” 
In Iwate prefecture where snow falls heavily, chilled unprocessed sake is enjoyed with a hot pot seated below the kotatsu (Japanese table with a heater underneath), one of the best ways to enjoy the frigid winter season.    

#alljapannews #hotsake #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake


Best ways to store and enjoy sake 

Please avoid exposure to ultraviolet light when storing sake - very harmful to the quality of sake - or direct sunlight. The quality of sake will degrade under direct sunlight within one to two hours. Also, please avoid fluorescent light when storing sake.  
Once opened, sake is best if finished off quickly. If sake cannot be finished in one sitting however, please keep the cap and spout of the bottle clean and store in a dark place. If air inside the bottle is released before storage, the opened bottle of sake should last for approximately a month. Also, long-term storage does not turn sake into aged sake, but rather, the sake flavor and aroma changes over time and sake turns into vinegar. 
Although sake is known as the best medicine, please keep the appropriate volume of consumption in mind. Drinking the same amount of water as sake, or “water served with sake,” will help ease the stomach. 




日本酒を飲んでも太らない。日本酒のカロリーは100 mlで185 kcalで太るのはお酒と一緒に食べるおつまみが原因。また、アルコール体を冷やすが、日本酒は違う。(アルコール健康医学協会)
#alljapannews #drinking #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (2023 Beaujolais Nouveau release party)

By Ryuji Takahashi

The 2023 Beaujolais Nouveau was released on November 16. I am sure many of our readers are familiar with this wine, so to explain simply, Beaujolais Nouveau is a new wine pressed in the Burgundy region of southeastern Paris, France. Due to the time difference, Japan gets to enjoy the 2023 Beaujolais Nouveau sooner than France, which made this wine popular. The release date is set to ensure the wine quality.  
The release date of Beaujolais Nouveau is set to prevent consumers who prefer to taste the wine (flavor not yet adjusted) as soon as possible from influencing the wine rating. This year, I headed over to restaurant “Takuan Botantei” in Western Nishi-Shinjuku again to attend the Beaujolais Nouveau release party. 
This year, we sampled the “Mommessin” Beaujolais Nouveau, a renowned wine brand from central Beaujolais, pressed from grapes harvested using a sustainable agricultural method and minimal pesticides by a long-established winery with over one hundred years of history. 
The fruity flavor of Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau exudes a fresh aroma, light in body with a lively fresh palate characteristic of Nouveau. With a light snack, the flavor can be enjoyed for a long time without getting tired of the flavor. By light snack, I mean Sukiyaki served at “Takuan Botantei.” On this day, guests savored the delicious umami flavor of Sukiyaki as each guest enjoyed at least one bottle each. 
As empty wine bottles lined the table, the tipsy hostess started performing her annual “kappore” dance (traditional Japanese comic dance), followed by a live flamenco performance by professional musicians and dancers. Finally, the event concluded with the song “Kiyoshiro Imawano,” accompanied by a shamisen performance by the hostess with Flamenco guitar and guests who sang along. Drunk guests sang using a spoon to substitute for a microphone. The release party ended as guests laughed out loud.     
The Beaujolais Nouveau release party ended with many guests smiling after savoring a lot of wine with entertainment. The wine transported by air from France was well served by guests who savored and cherished this product. When I was younger, I had no interest in Beaujolais Nouveau to be frank. Now that I know how fun the release party is, I wish I had started enjoying this wine sooner. As I received monaka (wafer filled with bean jam) as a souvenir and headed home, I imagined the fields of Beaujolais and enjoyed the aftertaste of this wonderful wine on my way home.  
#BeaujolaisNouveau #alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #wine


The flavor and fragrance of sake

Sake tasting typically starts by evaluating the color. Most sake products sold today are colorless. Sake brewed today is pressed, decanted, and then filtered further. Fine particles are completely removed before pasteurization and storage. Generally, activated carbon is used for filtration, which fades the color that remained when fermentation-mash was squeezed. By the way, activated carbon is used not to fade the color, but to adjust the fragrance and prevent coloring, bacterial contamination, and excessive aging.   
Sake generates color to some extent, although the color differs. Several factors that generate color in sake are mostly attributed to the ingredients – rice, koji mold, yeast, and water. Color is a natural phenomenon that does not influence the quality of sake, other than high iron content in water that produces a reddish brown color in sake. “Amber,” “golden,” or “bright yellow” sake were deemed valuable until filtration started in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). Even today, these three phrases are used during sake tasting.   
Also, at a time when sake was brewed and stored in wooden buckets, the sake color was praised along with the fragrance of wood. Therefore, despite the use of cedar buckets at the time, a piece of Yoshino cedar was commonly added to store sake.  
The use of activated carbon to filter sake started in the early Showa Era (1926-1989). However, one theory claims the reason is attributable to the production of Ginjo sake that flourished at the time. Active carbon was used to reduce the color of sake since sake competitions at the time tended to rate light colored sake highly. Since light-bodied sake tends to be favored recently, the general impression is that high-quality sake is nearly colorless.   
Therefore, other than sake stored long-term, degradation must be suspected in general sake sold with a yellowish tint, not due to the color of the sake itself. In such cases, many sake products are not stored correctly, thus exposed to sunlight, which impacts the flavor. However, this is not the case for cask sake or aged sake. If sake is stored in cedar containers like cask sake, fungi and bacteria in the cedar can elute into the sake and generate color. Also, the longer sake is stored, the darker the color generated. Therefore, sake aged for ten years is typically amber or bright yellow.  

きき酒ではまず色を見ることになっているが、実は現在市販されている日本酒の大半は、ほとんど色がついていないといっていい。現在の日本酒は、上槽・滓引きの後さらに濾過して、微細な固形物を完全に除去してから火入れ・貯蔵されるが、一般に、この濾過の際に活性炭を使用するため、もろみを搾った段階ではついていた色が脱色されてしまうからである。ちなみに、活性炭使用の目的は脱色だけではなく、香味の調整や着色の防止、 火落ち防止、過熟防止などの意義もある。 
活性炭を使って濾過するようになったのは昭和初期頃からとされるが、その理由は、当時盛んになっていた吟醸酒造りにあったという説がある。当時、品評会では色の薄い酒が高く評価される傾向があったため、活性炭によって色を抜くようになったというのである。最近はとくに淡麗な 酒質が好まれる傾向にあるから、ほとんど無色に近い酒が良質の日本酒というイメージが出来上がっているともいえよう。 
したがって、現在市販されている一般の日本酒で長期貯蔵酒以外に黄色く見えるものは、酒自体の色ではなく、変質による着色を疑ったほうがよい。多くは保管状態が悪く、日光に当たって着色してしまったものだからで、味にも影響があるはずだという。 ただし、樽酒と古酒に関しては別で、樽酒のように杉材の容器に貯蔵した場合は、杉材のテルペン類(菌類や細菌)が酒の中に溶出して薄く着色することがある。 また、日本酒は貯蔵を経るほど色を増すから、10年物ともなると、琥珀色や山吹色になっている。 
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #saketasting


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