Wednesday, January 10, 2018
1) Did you know Sparkling Sake exists? A recent Japan Times news article discusses the growing popularity of Sparkling Sake, from its origins in 1998, noting "Presented in small, stylish bottles, many kinds of sparkling sake are only about 5 percent alcohol - lower than the 15 percent of typical sake. It is a popular choice among women." At most of the Sake tastings I have held, Sparkling Sake has usually been the most popular choice of the women attending the tasting. A few brewers have also started producing Sparkling Sake that is more similar to Champagne. Sparkling Sake can be a introduction to Sake, showcasing its diversity and breaking misconceptions about the nature of Sake. The next time you want to celebrate with some bubbly, consider Sparkling Sake.
2) Should you age Sake in oak barrels? Very little Sake is aged in wood, and most that is aged in such a manner is aged in Japanese cedar and known as Taruzake. This has historical precedent but what about oak aging, like with wine? The Japan Times wrote about Wakaze, Inc. is now exporting its Orbia Sake brand, which has been aged in used oak barrels. One variety, the Sol, is aged in former red wine barrels while the Luna is aged in former white wine barrels. The Sol is "known for its rich sourness and fruity aroma" while the Luna is known "for its delicate sweetness." A major reason for the creation of these Sakes is to make them better pairings for Western cuisine, such as meat dishes or other fatty foods. This is an intriguing idea though I could see the oak barrels overwhelming more subtle Sakes.
3) Huge Sake news from New York! The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that the Asahi Sake Brewery, which produces the famous Dassai brand, is planning to open a large Sake brewery in New York state. They have purchased a 62,000-sq.-meter site in New York's Hyde Park area, located in the Hudson Valley, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America, and the total investment is estimated to be about $31 Million. Plans indicate the brewery will be about to produce about 1.8 million liters, and primarily Junmai Daiginjo, using locally grown rice. They hope to price this Sake at an extremely inexpensive $15, when most other Daiginjo Sake costs $40+. This is certainly indicative of the huge Sake market in the U.S. and could help promote Sake in a large way, especially considering its low price. It will likely be a couple years before we start seeing Sake from this planned brewery but it's very exciting news. And maybe other Japanese Sake breweries will now consider opening a brewery in the U.S.