HOW TO CHOOSE AND DEGUSTER JAPANESE SAKE ?
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CHOOSE A SAKE ACCORDING TO THE AROMATIC PROFILE
Schematically, we can distinguish 2 main aromatic profiles :
1. Fruity and floral aromas : Ginjo and Daiginjo sake. They have a low acidity, a slightly marked umami and are perfect for a first contact, especially if your tastes in terms of wine lead you to expressive and fruity things.
2. Cereal and lactic notes : Junmai and Honjozo sake. They have a stronger acidity and a richer umami. They are generally more dense, or more focused on minerality.
En complément, on trouve les sakés spéciaux pour lesquels une mise en place technique particulière a été effectuée par le brasseur. On parle alors de sakés Nigori (troubles), Koshu (sakés âgés), Kimoto ou Yamahaï, ou encore les sakés pétillants. Enfin, la catégorie des Futsuushu correspond aux sakés de tous les jours, les sakés de table sortent des catégories précédemment listées, mais qui n’en sont pas moins qualitatifs.
CHOOSE ACCORDING TO CONTEXT
If you want to share your experience with friends, don’t forget to consider their tastes and experience of sake. If you are already a connoisseur, but not them, go instead on a Ginjo or Daiginjo style, it’s perfect to start. However, if your entourage is composed of fine tasters, or people already expert in wines, do not hesitate to take them to a richer and denser style with a Junmai, a Yamahai, a sparkling sake.
As part of a discovery or tasting, we advise you to propose a selection of sake with characteristics well contrasted with representative products of their category. If during a meal you have different drinks, our advice would be to start with sake and pass the wines or champagnes in a second time.
HOW TO DEGUSTER A SAKE
The sake is about 15% alcohol and its mode of consumption is therefore similar to that of wine. We advise you to taste in a white wine glass, slightly fresh or at room temperature. Each sake has its own serving temperature ranging from very cool to hot.
Assess clarity, colour : is it completely clear and transparent or cloudy ? Does the sake have a color and in this case, of what intensity ?
Evaluate the nose: is it present or is it discreet, marked by aromas of fruit, flowers, or rather lactic, carrying cereal notes ?
Assess the mouth: do you find the aromas on the nose ? what about acidity, umami, bitterness, aromatic power ?
Evaluate the length: how do flavours evolve ? Are they persistent and long, or are they sharp and thirsty ?
Sake can be used in all kinds of traditional containers such as small bowls called Choko or Guinomi, or in a wooden container called Masu. A small glass is placed in the masu which is filled until it overflows generously (brand of conviviality in Japan). To heat the sake, we use either a Tokuri (a sake pitcher), or a Tampo (a metal container to heat in a bain marie). The sake is then served in choko, or better yet in a Hirezake, a ceramic cup with a lid to keep the sake warm and in which a grilled fugu fin is placed.
But the best way to appreciate all the nuances and qualities of sake is to taste it in a wine glass.
TASTE AT WHAT TEMPERATURE ?
The choice of temperature depends on the sake itself but also on the moment. The tradition of hot sake is reserved for the winter period, from the beginning of the cold season to the first light of spring. Here are the different service temperatures and their respective names in Japanese :
5°C - Yukibié
10°C – Hanabié
15°C – Suzubié
20°C - Jo-on
35°C - Hitohadakan
40°C - Nurukan
45°C - Jokan
50°C – Astukan
It is recommended to taste :
Ginjo : fresh or at room temperature
Junmai, Honjozo, Futsuushu : over the entire temperature range.
(We indicate the optimal tasting temperature on each product sheet).
DEGUSTER WITH WHICH ACCOMPANIMENTS ?
Le saké est léger et rafraîchissant. Il est peu acide et s'accommode merveilleusement avec la cuisine moderne où l'utilisation de matière grasse est plus limitée. Nul besoin de cuisiner japonais pour en découvrir les subtilités.
- As an aperitif, accompanied by raw ham, vegetables or seafood.
- For starters, such as oysters or foie gras
- During the meal, the possible arrangements are very varied. Of course with fish, but also with meat, including grilled red meats with which the sake yamahai, rich and carrying a good acidity, are magnificent. With simply cooked vegetables.
- With cheese : sake, with its fermenting notes, goes very well with different types of cheese.
- At dessert time : the creaminess of some sake will find its echo with the sweetness of many desserts, fruit pies, chocolate desserts...
HOW TO KEEP A BOTTLE OF SAKE ?
- An unbroken bottle of sake can be kept for several months or even years, vertically, out of the light and in a cool place.
- Once opened, it is recommended to keep the bottle in the refrigerator and drink the sake within a week or 10 days.
There are sakés de garde called Koshu that age in barrels or tanks and evolve to gain density and creaminess. These sake are provided from their production to be aged and it is not recommended to make age oneself a bottle that is not intended for this purpose.