Welcome to the seventh installment of America's sake-centric newsletter. Firstly a big laugh and a big
thank you for the numerous "lovers" who sent emails recalling their Valentine's Night sake naughtiness.
I greatly appreciate the stories, but enough words, let's see those photos! For the record book several
readers recommended sake body shots, one spoke highly about drinking from the same glass at the
same time, and one adventurous sake drinker mentioned that he froze some sake and made his partner
a human luge track. But my favorite note was from DL who wrote: " I shared the nigori sake from
Tsukinokatsura with my husband and it was a blast! I don't know if it was technically allowed, but I
paired the nigori with dark chocolates from around the world, so we had mini vacation in our living
room." Remember anything is allowed as long were talking about "water from the heavens".
In this issue:
PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
As I mentioned in one of my earlier newsletters several months back, typhoons pounded Japan last year;
24 to 28 depending on whom you were speaking to and how much they had consumed. Nevertheless it
was a horrible - and I mean absolutely awful - year for the sake rice farmers. Please recall that sake-
brewing rice stands much taller than consumption rice, and as such strong winds play havoc on these top-
heavy stalks of rice. Now that this brewing rice is in play, and being used the results are not as bad as
perceived. I am happy to report that we need not beware the rice of March!
Not nearly as dramatic as grapes for wine, rice has its seasons - good and bad - as well. But when you
really press a toji (master brewer) or a kuramoto (brewery owner) they can never really recall the great
years, only the bad. I think the reason for this is that it is still possible to make good sake from average
quality rice. They just have to work harder. And there are more steps available to make an
improvement from a starch, unlike grapes, which are already glucose with little margin for error. I had a
nice discussion with the owner of a brewery, who I consider the most knowledgeable sake guru that I
have ever met, and he said that the rice this year was "okay'. When I asked him to expand on okay he
said that roughly 30% of the rice that came his way was spoiled - presumably by the typhoons. I said
that 30% sounded like a lot, and he said that because the rice was damaged does not mean it was
unusable. Of course a lot of it is trashed, but even damaged rice can be tweaked was his point. Perhaps
it doesn't mill as well or absorb as well, but tojis have generational old tricks to make sub par rice work.
And that is why they don't really recall the good years, rather they remember the bad rice growing years
as it makes them work harder and that is something that we all tend to recall more - working harder!
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A Sake A Day - Keeps The Doc Away
Okay here is brief bit of info for all of you looking to justify your raging alcoholism. We all have seen the
TV interview with the 120 year-old Bulgarian woman who when asked why she lived so long claimed
that it was the shot of vodka every day (and the pack of cigs). Well maybe that old Bulgarian gal had
something according to a study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Francine
Grodstein of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston stated, "Low levels of alcohol appear to have
cognitive benefits." For those who are reading this newsletter at their local Izakaya (sake drinking house)
I will roughly translate this as "a good buzz means no fuzz."
The study of more than 12,000 elderly women found that those who consumed light to moderate
amounts of alcohol daily had about a 20% lower risk of experiencing problems with their mental abilities
later in life according to Rob Stein of the Washington Post. Furthermore "Women who consistently were
drinking about one-half to one drink per day had both less cognitive impairment as well as less decline in
their cognitive function compared to women who didn't drink at all," Grodstein said.
Now wait - the news gets better - as this study only focused on women it is assumed that men benefit
even more as previous studies in this area indicate that men seem to benefit more from alcohol than
women as they drink more than their female counterparts - one to two drinks per day - and apparently
the more the better. Translation: Doctors recommend that you call True Sake 415.355.9555 or visit our
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New Store Arrivals
For a limited time we still have the freshest Spring Released Nama sakes (unpasteurized) from Japan.
Arguably these are the freshest sakes outside of Japan, and we are very proud to offer Nama sakes to
you even before many Japanese can obtain them in their own homeland. There are four different Namas
to choose from - Koshinohomare, Kamikokoro, Harushika, and Kaika - and they all rock!
I have also added a killer "Yamahai" sake (made in the traditional style with open-air yeasts joining the
mix) from Akita that has really been floating my boat. It comes in the very cool Wakatake-style square
bottle and has a wicked nose filled with nuts, wheat, powdered coffee creamer, and a hint of cereal in
milk - no kidding! This nose translates into a subtle cream flavor in the sake itself that my wife claimed
reminded her of cream sherry. I pulled hints of almonds and rice wrapped in a soft-spoken cocoa flavor.
All together it is a semi-dry viscous sake with a rolling thickness that feels great, and is both chunky and
chewy. A perfect Yamahai to explore the realms of a "wide" sake that welcomes all types of food
pairings. Hiraizumi - Yamahai Junmai - From Akita Prefecture - SMV:+4 Acidity:1.9 $34/720ml with
You can review many of our sakes on our web site:
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MARCH 15th - Shhhhhhhh! It's the "SECRET" Sake Tasting. This True Sake tasting will be held on
Tuesday March 15th from 6:30-7:30 at Zonal -568 Hayes Street two doors down from True Sake.
The price is only $20/person and there will be light snacks. Six "SECRET" sakes will be served and if
you enjoy a mystery this tasting is for you! Once again there will be limited seating so get your tickets
Stop by True Sake or phone the store at 415.355.9555 - we do not sell tickets at the door!
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Steve B. from Minnesota asked, "What does the word sake mean?"
Steve, firstly this is a simple but great question, and I will answer it by describing an embarrassing
situation that happened to me in Japan. On one of my trips to Osaka - roughly the time when the True
Sake concept began to formulate - I was with a Canadian fellow and we went looking for a "sake bar."
Time and time again we would ask people to show us to a sake bar and they would keep steering us to
nightclubs or typical bars that didn't really have sake. We kept asking what the F#^& are these peoples'
problem? Aren't they Japanese? Don't they know what sake is? I mean come on! We were both
frustrated and completely ignorant. Sake in Japan does not mean what sake in the US or abroad means.
In Japan the word sake means all types of alcoholic beverages. Thus those kind people kept showing us
to sake bars - bars that served all sorts of alcoholic beverages. Sake can be wine, beer, spirits and even
sake, but it doesn't just mean sake as we know it. The correct word in Japan is "Nihonshu" which
translates roughly into the "wine of Japan." There is another more formal name for sake that was used
when speaking in governmental or legal terminology, which is Seishu and stands for filtered sake. The
word Seishu can be found on most bottles of sake, but the word to use to find "sake" in Japan is
Nihonshu. And lastly what about that cute little accent above the e in sake? As they say in Hoboken
Please send your sake specific questions to
askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This
address is not for general questions and I only review the questions
once per month. All correspondence should use
info @ truesake.com.)
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The SECRET WORD
If you are new to the Newsletter welcome to the most important part. Each month we select two
different sakes for our newsletter readers to get at half price. The point is to continue your sake
education by trying trying trying. What we do is we select a word that you must utter under your breath
not alerting other non-readers who happen to be shopping at the same time. This has been hugely
popular, and we often run out of one or the other at some point but we refill quickly so bear with us. We
also encourage that you don't just show up at True Sake once a month to take advantage of the great
deal only! We know who you are! That said this month's SECRET WORD sakes are Maihime, a semi-
dry Junmai that drinks very dry, and Nanburyu a semi-dry Junmai that drinks far earthier and sweeter.
And the SECRET WORD is Nihonshu!
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Thanks for reading!