Sunday, August 23, 2009

3/9/09: Pairing Saké with... Pottery?!

Saké Hana teamed up with antique pottery dealer Makari to bring interesting saké tasting event: studying how different pottery impacts flavor of saké.

There were three famed pottery styles represented in Hagi, Iga, and Imari (three on the left, clockwise).

Each pottery was paired with a different saké, also poured into the control cup (three small glasses to the right).

In the end, I found Imari to have very minimal impact in terms of flavor, as the material is fine china instead of rough clay. The wide mouth did allow the sides of the tongue to taste the sakés first, which made the the saké feel lighter in the mouth.

Hagi had a significant change to the flavor, as it brought out more mineral flavors. With high grade sakés, I am afraid it may detract from the fruity flavors.

In my mind, Iga was the ideal vessel as it softened flavors and rounded out the edges. This is a definite plus if you're having some Junmai or Honjozo. For the Ginjo and Daiginjo classes, it provides similar effect to aging saké without the oxidization.

In an interesting twist, Toshi had submerged a Hagi cup in saké overnight, which made it much more round and mellow.

All in all, it was a great lesson to see how the material and shape of a vessel can affect flavor of saké. If you have different saké cups, try to see how different they can make your favorite bottle taste!

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