Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mizore-zake: Sleety Saké

During this winter season, it may rain, snow or even sleet. When those hard pellets of sleet fall, it may bring to mind Mizore-zake, "sleety Saké," which may also be know as Arare-zake, or "hail wine."

There seems to be a couple different origin stories for this drink, as well as differences in how it was made. Plus, there is a modern version which is very different from the other two.

In the first case, mizore-zake was created by a medical doctor from the Nara Prefecture. At some point between the late 14th and 16th centuries, brewers in Nara produced Nanto-morohaku, which became a Saké of high repute. This Saké was made with a new brewing process, a change from the usual nidan-jikomi ("double brewing") to sandan-jikomi ("triple brewing.") Plus, they used poished white rice rather than the traditional brown rice. So, this became known as Morohaku ("all white.")." The doctor decided to crumble rice crackers atop his morohaku Saké, so that it looked like sleet.

In the second case, the mizore-zake was supposedly created around 1596 A.D., though it too derived inspiration from Nara, from a famous pond called Sarusawa. Rice cakes were cut and then diluted with shochu until they eventually resembled hail pellets. They were then added to mirin, sweet rice wine, to age.

Nowadays, there is a version of mizore-zake which is a frozen Saké, like a sherbet.

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