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!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2/1/09: Nanbu Bijin Junmai Ginjo

2009 greeted me with new job at a very well-known Japanese Media Company. The good news is that it's a big step up in my career and keeps me challenged. The bad news is that I haven't had too much time to play (kind of explains why I am posting about February in August...) It also took me into February to get my first saké-centric post.

On this cold Saturday,I invited few friends for a home-made pasta party (saké and pasta? Sure, why not.) Here is one of the lovely guests making her first hand-made pasta.

The saké of the choice was another bottle I came home with, the Junmai Ginjo Hiyaoroshi Nama Genshu (SMV: +5, Acidity: 1.5, Rice: Miyamanishiki, Seimaibuai: 55%, Yeast: #9) from Nanbu Bijin. Fruity with vibrant and lithe texture with tremendous depth, this was the highlight of the party.

It should be noted that we didn't actually pair saké with pasta, as it was drank while waiting for water to boil. Let's just say that we didn't wait too long to get to the next bottle, the Vietti Barbera...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

November and December, 2008

11/29/08: Nabé Party

After my trip to Northern Japan, I definitely had to meet up with the Tohoku Girls. This time, I was invited to Ms. Iwaté's place for a Japanese hot pot party, along with Ms. Aomori, Ms. Miyagi and a new member, Ms. Hokkaido.

Ms. Aomori prepared marinated Gyu-tan, which is a thinkly sliced beef... well, you can Google it.

I contributed two bottles. The first one to be opened was Nanbu Bijin Junmai Daiginjo (SMV: +1, Acidity: 1.5, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 40%, Yeast: #9) that I brought home from Japan. This was a prototypical modern-style Jumnai Daiginjo, with soft apporach and incredibly round and fruity flavor.

Nabé, or Japanese hot pot is essentially cooking ingredients in a dashi-filled communal pot at the table, which makes it a very social event and highly suited for drinking saké. The ingredients were fresh vegetables and seafood.

The second bottle was Kudoki Jouzu Junmai Ginjo from Yamagata. The refreshingly fruity and clean style was a good match to go with the nabé.

Here is Ms. Aomori, Ms. Iwaté, and Ms. Hokkaido. Ms. Miyagi is presumebly holding the scallops shown on the lower right...

12/13/08: Nanbu Bijin Nama

On this Saturday, I stopped by Sakaya to discover that Nanbu Bijin Nama is now available in the US. Surely, this must be from this batch. Two years ago, Nambu Bijin Nama was light and dry with flavors of steamed rice, more traditional in style. Last year, the style was far more modern, emphasizing fruits. This year, the change in yeast added elements of fresh mushrooms to the fruits. I wonder what next year's version will bring?

12/31/09: New Year's Eve

My friend Hideo invited me to a New Year's Eve Party at our mutual friend's office space. While "office space" doesn't sound particularly attractive, I couldn't resist as it was located right near Times Square,where I could enjoy the atmosphere from inside.

Inami-san contribted a whopper of a bottle, Kokuryu Shizuku Daiginjo in a 1.8L size. Polished down to 35%, this was extremely gentle, fruity, and deep.

My contribution was Ama No To "Umashiné" Tokubetsu Junmai.

Much more traditional in style, I really enjoy the rich umami of Umashiné.

A shochu made an appearance, and a rare one at that - Hozan red label made with sweet potato koji mold. Soft, complex, and delicious.

I am sure that wlcoming the New Years with Umashiné will bring good luck in 2009!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home

The day after touching down, I attended the Akita Saké Tasting. Of course, I was jet-lagged, but the good thing was, I was able to sleep in. What's a litte saké for breakfast?

My enjoyment of these sakés were amplified, with the trip to Akita still fresh in my mind. For example, any time I have Ama No To, I am reminded of times like this.

In the following days, I met up with friends to share the tales from my trip. This should come as no surprise to say that the sakés I chose were bottles that were fresh in my memory, such as the time I brought Také No Tsuyu Tokubetsu Junmai to a friend's place.

Of course, I also had to go to Sakagura. My drink of choice was Hakuro Suishu. (I believe I might have depleted their inventory through subsequent visits.)

The food selection was slanted towards various type of meat, which is a rarity for Daiginjo-grade saké, but at this point, I can convince myself that anything would have paired well with Hakuro Suishu.