Welcome to the eighth installment of America's sake-centric
newsletter. Well this may come as a shock but I wanted to inform all
of my readers and customers of True Sake that as of the end of April
we will no longer sell sake, rather we will start to sell Shochu only.
As Shochu has become so very popular in Japan and here in the US we
felt that we should jump on this trend. In this regard we will be
liquidating our vast inventory of over 150 brands of sake and
replacing them with delicious Shochu. We will also be changing our
name to True Shochu. So for the month of April please visit the store
and take advantage of our "Buy One Get Five Free Bottles Of Sake"
deal. And lastly Happy April Fools Day!
In this issue:
Aging Sake – Hey I Found a Bottle of Sake in My Closet – Is it Still
As we all know, sake is a perishable product that is pasteurized and
does not use the long lasting aging agents such as sulfites found in
wine. Wine of course wins the battle of being able to lay bottles down
for years and years, but once you open a bottle of wine you are only
talking hours rather than days for drink-ability. Because of
pasteurization sake keeps longer once the bottle is opened – much
longer! Now what about aging sake if it is perishable? Like brewing
sake itself, the act of aging sake is an art form pure and simple.
Aging sake is part of the sake making process. Historically sake was
made in the winter and spring months. It was "laid down" either in
large vats or in bottles during the summer and released in the fall.
This so-called aging period was intentionally used to mellow out the
flavor of freshly brewed sake, which is actually quite lively, raw and
crisp. Let's just say they used the "aging period" to take the edge
off. Each brewery uses their own aging schedule, which they feel works
best for their sake. That said the average aging/mellowing period is
roughly 6 months, at which time they bottle and/or release the sake to
the public. If you put a gun to a sake maker's head and said "how long
will the sake be good for after you bottled and released it?" they
would answer, "help!" But if you asked nicely they would say "6
months." And by that time figure they are guesstimating that the sake
will not change much during that period.
Aged sake is called Koshu. And there are many ways to achieve this
"aged-sake" status from keeping it refrigerated at sub-zero
temperatures to forgetting about leaving a bottle in your closet for
years. The results vary. Some breweries specialize in Koshu and they
use various refrigeration techniques, and others use room-temperature
storage techniques. Low temperature or freezing aging techniques
yields a mellowed yellow color sake or even clear if it is cold
enough. And room temperature techniques yield a brownish colored sake
bordering on soy sauce looking. For example True Sake sells one Koshu
sake that has been sub-zero aged since 1999, and another that was low-
temperature aged since 1997. We also carry an 8 year-old Koshu that
was room temperature aged. They all look and taste quite differently.
I know of one brewery that blends their 25,15, and 10 year-old Koshu
into one sake.
Koshu sake is still quite a mysterious subject. Many feel it is a bit
of a taboo topic, but more feel that aging sake is an entirely new
and pleasurable way of enjoying this great beverage. Typically Koshu
is served after a meal, as they tend to be full-bodied with deep and
rich flavors. Many earth tones such as grains, nuts, mushrooms, rice,
and straw become pronounced, and deep fruit tones and honey-like
qualities also appear. I will be the first to say that Koshu is not
for everybody, but once you try it – it is a broad new terrain to
travel. I also make it a policy and store invitation that I will
trade you new and fresh sake for any old sake that you may stumble
across in your closet. But be brave and try it yourself. The worst
thing that can happen is that it tastes bad and you chuck it. I have
never heard of anybody dying from bad Koshu. That said I have heard of
people dying for good Koshu!
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T.P.O – Why Sake Tastes Great Sometimes and Not So Great at Other
There is an old industry slogan about Time, Place, and Occasion, and
it has to do with how you feel whilst drinking sake. It's hard to
appreciate anything when you are in a bad mood. Of course there is the
metaphysics involved revolving around the enzymes that your mouth
creates on account of emotions. But more importantly it is the
subconscious that will remind you later how you enjoyed or didn't
enjoy something at the moment. As I have told countless times, I have
been in the worst of moods and have been offered "the best sake in
Japan" and found it both boring and swill-like! And likewise I have
been in the best of moods and have been offered durge and swill-like
sake that tasted as if floating virgins had trickled the nectar of the
gods into my awaiting mouth. Therefore it is more about you than the
Sake changes and so do you! You can try the exact same sake on
different days, and like it one day but not the next. I am extremely
guilty of labeling sakes that I don't like. But often when I revisit
these banished sakes they have qualities that I did not know that they
possessed and feel like a fool for ignoring them. What am I saying?
And by all means please give me your best Beatles guitar-strumming
intro: "Give Sake a Chance" "and another and another!" And remember
True Sake doesn't sell bad sake – you're the problem!
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New Store Arrivals – Hello Organic Sake!
True Sake used to carry a designated "organic" sake, but the importers
decided to stop representing it. Then I recently discovered that one
of my favorite sakes in the store uses organic rice in its production
(thank you Miwa). So I decided to scour the US-imported sake offerings
and consequently have collected two more quality organic sakes to fill
out our current inventory. Each of these sakes uses organic rice and
pure water, and represents the "greenest" sakes available from Japan.
Takara Sake Brewery in Berkeley makes a sake called "Organic," but we
do not carry it as it is not imported.
Each of these sakes are packaged brilliantly, but the important stuff
is on the inside. They make great gifts for those looking to keep pure
of mind and body. Eat right and drink right!
Daishichi Shizenshu Kimoto "Big 7" from Fukushima.
Junmai. SMV: +2 Acidity:1.4 $35/720ml
Tokun Sharaku "Samurai" from Chiba.
Junmai Ginjo. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.3 $30/720ml
Koshino Hoden "Organic" from Niigata.
Junmai Ginjo. SMV: +5 Acidity: 1.4 $30/720ml
You can review many of our sakes on our web site:
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There is not much going on in April. True Sake's next tasting event
will be larger in focus and will take place in May. We are going to
select a Japanese restaurant to do a food pairing sake tasting of
note. The restaurant tastings are a lot of fun, so keep a look out for
the May Newsletter for more details.
Also, for those of you who know of any special sake events, including
all of you restaurateurs who I know read this Newsletter please let me
know what flights of sake that you are currently serving and I will
gladly share them with my most excellent readers. And in this same
vein if any of you - my most excellent readers – know of good places
to drink sake or enjoy sake with good cuisine please let me know at
email@example.com and I
will pass this info on.
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Well I received a great email the other day that I thought I should
share with you all to help dispel any misconceptions about sake not
pairing well with exotic cuisines.
H & S write:
WE WERE WONDERING IF YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO SUGGEST A SAKE THAT WOULD
GO WELL WITH OUR WEDDING MEAL. SINCE WE ARE HAVING A VERY
UNTRADITIONAL WEDDING, WE ARE INCORPORATING JUST ANYTHING WE LOVE.
SAKE IS ONE OF THEM, HOWEVER OUR MEAL IS ARMENIAN/GREEK. FOODS LIKE
LAMB, TABBOULEH, FALAFEL, CUCUMBER MINT DRESSING, GREEK SALAD AND
OTHER VERY FLAVORFUL DISHES WILL BE SERVED. SO, EVEN THOUGH WE LOVE
SAKE, IS IT POSSIBLE TO BRING THESE FLAVORS TOGETHER?
First of all H & S congrats. Secondly stop yelling – lay off of the
caps! And thirdly of course sake goes with hugely flavored foods. For
one reason please revisit the T.P.O. section of this Newsletter, where
we all know that sake tastes better when you are in a happy place. I
would think that your wedding would be a very happy place judging by
the raised voices in your email! The second reason is that even though
sake has 1/3 the acidity of wine it still has a powerful presence in
your mouth. But it is wise to meet power with power and as such I
would select sakes with high acidity and sakes that are not diluted.
In other words look for Genshu (undiluted) sakes or traditionally made
sakes such as Yamahai (with airborne yeast) or Kimoto (pole rammed)
sakes that both have higher acidity levels. And if all else fails and
you have a flair for the sweetish thing – not the Swedish thing – then
select your favorite Nigori (unfiltered cloudy) sake. Each of these
sakes will go amazingly well with big flavors, but better than that
each of these sakes will go well with all the smiles that will be
blossoming at your special occasion.
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
Hey which one of you shared the secret? I must tell you that the
SECRET WORD has become HUGE. But that is understandable because of the
fact that a secret is defined as: something that you tell one person
at a time. This breeds a good news bad news scenario. The good news is
now many of my distributors see the power of the SECRET WORD and have
given me slightly better rates on selected sakes. The bad news is that
more and more and more customers are saying that precious word and I
am having a harder time keeping stock of the items. That said, I
developed the SECRET WORD for you, my good readers of this Newsletter
who want to learn more about sake. And as such I feel compelled to
reward you all. Thus I have selected one of my favorite Junmai Ginjos
this month for you to taste. The Demon Slayer! This month's sake is
From Wakatake a brilliant brewery in Shizouka Prefecture. It is a
great Ginjo to pair with foods – including Pizza – and typically sells
for $24. But for you guys it costs a meager $12 for a sake that has
taken over 90 days to make using the best brewing rice. A virtual
bargain! So without due I give you this month's SECRET WORD. And the
word is three words: Time, Place and Occasion.
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Thank you for reading, but more importantly thank you for enjoying