Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Poker & an Asian Beauty
If I visit a casino, playing more serious poker, I generally won't drink any alcohol. However, when I play a casual game with friends, then wine and Sake are my usual drinks of choice. Every few weeks, I gather together with 8-11 friends to play poker in a casual game. Games are usually played on Friday evenings, typically lasting at least 7 hours. A fun night of camaraderie, cards and cups.
The majority of my friends drink beer and it seems as if each one drinks a different brew. A couple will partake of spirits, such as tequila or whiskey, and I will do so as well every once in awhile. My friend Adam, of Wine Zag, sometimes plays poker and he also drinks wine and Sake with me. The type of wine varies widely, reds, whites and roses, and could be from any wine region around the world. It can be a chance to explore new wines or share our favorites.
At our last game, I brought an "Asian Beauty" with me, the Toyo Bijin Junmai Ginjo Okarakuchi Sake ($35). Interestingly, though it appears most seem to interpret the phrase "Toyo Bijin" as "Asian Beauty," the word "Toyo" generally means "abundant" or "plentiful." A better translation for this Sake then might be "Abundant Beauty."
This Sake is brewed by the Sumikawa Shuzo, which was established in 1921 and is located in the Yamaguchi Prefecture. It is made with Yamada Nishiki rice, the "king" of Sake rice, which has been polished down to 55%, allowing it to qualify as a Ginjo. This is a karakuchi style, meaning it is a dry Sake, and that is reflected in its high Sake Meter Value which is +15. It also has a higher than average acidity, 1.5, which contributes to its perceived dryness.
I greatly enjoyed this Sake, finding it to be crisp, clean and smooth, with pleasant flavors of melon and Asian pear. A well balanced Sake, it is easy drinking, and would appeal to both Sake lovers and newcomers to this wondrous beverage. This would be an excellent Sake with food too, especially as it possesses a higher acidity. By the end of the evening, the bottle was empty, and I had won money, so maybe it brought me a bit of luck as well. The Toyo Bijin gets my highest recommendation.