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July 16, 2019

What About Sake: Part 2

Post by South Lyndale Liqours

What About Sake: Part 2

By Taylor | SLL

Before I get into some of the amazing things about sake, I need to clear the air and address a couple of stigmas related to sake.

That’s not to say some sake shouldn’t be lightly warmed, but for the most part I recommend either a slight chill or room temperature for consumption.

First! Temperature. Have you ever had sake served to you warm and wondered, “Why warm?’ Historically sake was served slightly warmed because it was a rougher product. Japan has been brewing sake for 2500 years. By 800 AD there we already 350 licensed breweries.

It wasn’t until the last forty years or so (and advances in technology) that made a shift to chilled sake the sensible option. The flavors now are more delicate, less rough, less woody and also, often clarified.  Also, warming a cheap sake is a way to hide how bad the sake is. Warming it elicits flavors that would be totally killed off by a strong chill.

Think about how important temperature is with most alcohol:

  • Big red wines break apart in the heat.
  • Insipid white wines are palatable with a strong chill.
  • Garbage vodka and tequila served ice cold go down well enough.

That’s not to say some sake shouldn’t be lightly warmed, but for the most part I recommend either a slight chill or room temperature for consumption.

What About Sake: Part 2

Additives and rice

Also, with the awareness we now have regarding food sensitivities, I should note that sake is gluten-free, tannin-free, made without sulfites (though naturally occurring in the winemaking process), there are no histamines and really no additions other than alcohol.

What About Sake: Part 2

Onto some of the cool eye-opening stuff! There are over 100 different kinds of rice used in brewing. And most of that rice has a distinct flavor, so in exploring sake remember that junmai, daiginjo, nigori is as important as rice and of course house style.

It's all in the process

I guess a short walkthrough of the process for brewing  sake might illuminate the above.

First, mill the rice, wash and soak it. Steam it. Make the koji. Heard of koji? So, koji is important. Koji is not yeast but instead cooked rice that has been inoculated with a fermentation culture. It’s a naturally occurring culture used for such things as miso, mirin and soya sauce.

Then work on the fermentation starter. Press, filter, pasteurize (or not) and store. Sake should be stored in a cool area. It should be treated like wine, but unlike wine sake can withstand being open for 1-3 months. One is more ideal than three but sake won’t oxidize so really you only lose a little freshness the longer it stays open.

Grabbing a 720ml isn’t as much of a commitment as it may seem.

What About Sake: Part 2

Think you know sake?

I learned a lot at Moto-i. I thought I knew a lot about sake, but like anything, the further you head down the rabbit-hole, the more there is to discover. I’m thinking maybe a part three is necessary…

Missed the first article? Read "What About Sake" Part 1 

Read What About Sake: Part 1
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