Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sake News: Oysters to the Tipsy Sensei

1) "It irks me. When I visit an oyster bar, the menu will usually have numerous wine options to pair with my raw bivalves, from Sauvignon Blanc to Muscadet, from Champagne to Chablis. But many of these restaurants fail to carry one of the best pairing choices, Japanese Sake."

More restaurants that serve oysters should also have Sake on their beverage lists. But why does Sake pair so well with oysters? There are a number of reasons and you can learn all about them by reading a guest post I wrote, Slurping Oysters & Sipping Sake, over at Jacqueline Church's new site. Jacqueline is currently focusing several articles on oysters, as well as instituting the start of the Oyster Century Club©. Once you try some delicious Sake with your oysters, you might never drink anything else.

2) "Four Seasons Baltimore's beverage manager Tiffany Dawn Soto wants you to know two things – first, that sake is pronounced "sa-keh" and not "sa-kee" and second, that you should never, under any circumstances, do a sake bomb."

Over at Gadling, there is an excellent article about Tiffany Dawn Soto, a sake sommelier, whose sentiments certainly appeal to me. No sake bombs! In the article, you can read a bit about her life, as well as learn a few things about sake. It is amazing to learn that Tiffany is the "..highest seller of sake outside of Japan for several years running, a total that amounts to 25 percent of the United States' overall sake sales." That is an impressive feat and earns her much respect.

3) Why have Sake sales declined so much in the past thirty years? Though Sake shipments increased in 2011 for the first time in 16 years, how can sake breweries continue that positive change? A recent article, Mass-market sake brewers fight bad image, in The Asahi Shimbun provides some suggestions and details some of the latest efforts to increase sake consumption.

One of the problems is alleged to be the difficulty of the new system used to designate sake, which includes terms like Junmai, Ginjo, Kimoto and more. That is an area where education is needed, and one of the reasons I teach sake classes and write about it. Though the terms seem exotic and esoteric, understanding them is not really too difficult. You can learn the basic terms in less than ten minutes. It would also help if the sake industry was more united in their marketing, trying to promote sake consumption in general. Maybe the new government initiative to promote sake will help in that regard too.

4) "Sake zukuri banryu" translates to the “10,000 schools of Sake making” and refers to the fact that there are so many different ways to produce Sake. There is no single correct way to do so and different breweries can approach production in radically different ways. Another recent article, The challenge for local sake, in The Asahi Shimbun presents two different points of view, industrialization and agriculturalization.

Asahi Shuzo, which makes the Dassai brand (which are excellent sakes), exemplifies industrialization. They do not rely on the traditional toji system, but rather run a laboratory, with a heavy reliance on science. In addition, rather than brewing sake during the winter, they brew year round, and make about 400 new brews annually. On the other hand is Shinkame Shuzo which exemplifies agriculturalization, and their primary focus  is on rice varieties and cultivation techniques and practices. This is more of a reliance on terroir.  Both breweries are successful, further showing there is no single way to successfully produce sake.

5) The Tipsy Sensei series is going strong. So far, I have published two sake-related short stories in the Tipsy Sensei series. This series is set in contemporary Boston and each story deals with an ancient Japanese legend. They can be classified as urban fantasy. The first story, Yurine's Pot, has received nine 4 & 5 Star reviews while the second story, The Ghost of a Ninja, which was published only two weeks ago, already has four 5 Star reviews.

I am currently working on the third short story, tentatively titled The Fox's Katana, and it will deal with kitsune, fox spirits. The fourth entry in the Tipsy Sensei, with a working title of Demons, Gods & Sake, will likely end up as a novel as the plot idea is too expansive for a short story. So grab the first two short stories, each for only 99 cents, and enjoy the tales of the Tipsy Sensei.

1 comment:

JacquelineC said...

Enjoying the Tipsy Sensei series and learning the joys of saké pairing with things like oysters. Who knew I could enjoy either one more?!