Anyone who has eaten out lately will have discovered that sake is not just for sushi bars anymore. Sake menus have gotten longer and longer at Japanese restaurants but other restauranteurs have found that sake also pairs well with eclectic offerings from barbeque to pasta. If you want to learn more about sake, in addition to the book Sake, A Modern Guide which we reviewed earlier in the year, a sake tasting is the way to go.
So how do you taste sake? Like most tastings you can easily get overwhelmed without a strategy. First and foremost, all the typical things you do at a wine tasting apply, notice how the sake pours, look at it, smell it and taste it. It's helpful to drink sakes in a specific order, Beau Timken, owner of the only sake store in the country, True Sake suggests starting with the least polished sakes, junmai/honjozo 70% and moving on to the most milled sakes, dai ginjo 50%. Try the unfiltered style nigori, taru or cedar sake and aged sakes last. What are the categories of sake from least polished to most polished? Junmai, junmai ginjo, junmai dai ginjo, honjozo, dai ginjo.
Sake can be divided into several categories, fragrant, light and smooth, rich and finally aged and mature. Consider determining which of these categories you enjoy the most so you can focus on it.
The Joy of Sake event takes place tomorrow, at Moscone West from 6 - 8:30 pm. It is a premier opportunity to taste and enjoy sake. Over 250 sakes will be featured and there will be appetizers from 16 local restaurants such as Hog Island Oyster, Memphis Minnie's and Roy's. Tickets are $70 and are available online. Next week we will share highlights of the tasting.