Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sake News (And An Upcoming Sake Tasting)

Kanpai! Here is another short list of some of the interesting Sake articles that have been published lately. It is great to see more and more coverage for Sake, though I recommend that anyone seeking to publish a Sake article check it at least a few times for accuracy. A few basic errors continue showing up in introductory Sake articles, and those errors would be easy to eliminate if you had a knowledgeable Sake person check your facts. Let us also hope that we see more than just introductory Sake articles in the future. Sake has many depths and all those varied facets make great material for articles.

1) Want to taste and learn about Sake with me? On Wednesday, September 28, I will be presiding over two, one-hour Sake tastings (one at 6pm and the other at 7pm) at The Wine Press in Brookline. These tasting will be to commemorate World Sake Day, which is held every year on October 1. You will get to taste 6 Sakes, showcasing the diversity of this compelling Japanese beverage, with food pairings. I'll be talking about Sake, from its history to production, from its styles to its rituals, and will answer your Sake questions. The Wine Press is getting serious about Sake and I love to see their passion.

Hope you will join me at one of these tastings. Space is very limited so get your FREE tickets now here at Eventbrite.

2) The production of Nigori Sake was illegal for hundreds of years until one brewery convinced the Japanese government to allow them to produce it, finding a way to make Nigori but still fit within the law. The Nikkei Asian Review recently published a a fascinating article about the Tsukino Katsura brewery in Kyoto and Tokubee Masada, its 14th generation owner. It was Masuda's father who convinced the government to permit them to produce Nigori in the 1960s, opening the gates for other Sake breweries to do the same. Masada is also the Chairman of the Global Strategy Commission of the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, helping to plan a strategy to increase Sake consumption across the world. Check out this article for some intriguing insights into the Sake industry and this innovative brewery.

3) Tax-free Sake for tourists? The Japan Times reported that the Japan Tourism Agency has plans to seek an exemption from the Finance Minstry for domestically produced alcohol, including Sake,  rom the liquor tax when they are bought by foreign tourists. This exemption would also include wine, beer, whiskey, shochu and more. These would essentially become duty free, and you could only buy them to take with you when you left Japan. For a 720ml bottle of Sake, the liquor tax is about 83 cents, so it would be most beneficial if you were buying a large amount of Sake. However, adding Sake to the duty free stores might make them seem to be even less expensive than what you might actually save.

4) Cartoons used to promote Sake? Back in 2007, Disney wanted to place Remy, the rat-chef from the animated movie Ratatouille, on a wine label. However, Disney canceled those plans as they faced lots of opposition, with a primary complaint that having a cartoon on a wine label might promote underage drinking. Japan has a very different mindset than the U.S. concerning animation, known as anime in Japan. Many adults in Japan embrace anime and it certainly is not seen as only for children. As such, they have no problems with using anime to promote adult products, which now includes Sake.

Dig Japan reported that AltPlus, a game development company, has been "Working together with breweries and illustrators, they’ve created characters collectively known as ShuShu. They are personifications of various nihonshu brands. The character’s birthplace is the location of that particular brewery, and their age corresponds either to the foundation of the brewery or to the history of a particular nihonshu. They also list the characters' favorite foods, which are those that go best with the nihonshu the represent. Of course, each character has their own throughout back story." The article provides the compelling artwork for 12 of the characters, and gives detailed info about three of them.

I think it is a fascinating promotion and I love the artwork. You can check out the official site for these anime characters, Japanese Sake Stories, but it is only in Japanese. I'm not sure these labels would ever be approved for the U.S. as there would be much opposition, alleging the labels could lead to underage drinking.

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