Dec 11, 2008

Complicated Sake Name

Lately, I feel a kind of gap between sake breweries and sake consumers.

There are many types of sake. Fore example, sakes called tokuteimeishoshu (sake with a special name) actually includes eight different types of sake. They are honjozo, tokubetsu-honjozo, ginjoshu, and daiginjoshu (alcohol-added sakes), and junmaishu, tokubetsu-junmaishu, junmai-ginjoshu, and junmai-daiginjoshu (sakes to which no alcohol has been added). Each of these names of tokuteimeishoshu is defined according to whether brewing alcohol has been added to the sake, the value of seimaibuai (to what degree the rice used has been polished down), and other criteria, and there is a law to define the criteria to specify these names.

Also, there are other ways to classify sake. Usually, pasteurization process is applied to sake twice during its production process. However, Namazake is a sake to which no pasteurization process is applied through its entire production process while namachozoshu is pasteurized immediately before it is shipped and namazumeshu is pasteurized immediately before it is stored for aging process. Unlike usual sake, which has been diluted with water to make it easier to drink, a sake called genshu has not been diluted. Another classification method divides sake into three categories according to in what stage of the sake-pressing process the sake has been pressed. If sake is pressed in the beginning state, it is called arabashiri. Sake pressed in the middle stage is called nakadori, and one pressed in the final stage is called seme.

Since some of the terms described above are concurrently used to form a sake name, a sake can have a name like "nakadori fukuroshibori junmai-ginjo yamahai muroka nama genshu" (fukuroshibori: a pressing method using cloth bags, yamahai: a method for preparing a yeast starter, and muroka: unfiltered). Such a name is quite complicated and it is difficult for general sake consumers to correctly understand the meaning. Such a name indicates how the sake has been made and only those who have a knowledge about sake brewing process can decipher the meaning. However, first of all, is it necessary for a sake drinker to understand how the sake she/he is drinking has been made?

It seems that sake brewers are directing their attention only to sake reviewers, sake enthusiasts, sake connoisseurs, and appraisers from the National Tax Agency. I think they should view their products from the viewpoint of general sake consumers.

Now, it is Christmas season, and towns are illuminated by many small lights in the nighttime. The kimono circle I belongs to will hold an annual Christmas party, in which everyone must wear kimono. For this year, we plan to bring a sake cask to the party for a toast although Christmas and sake sound somehow mismatched. I hope that people enjoy sake more freely in various situations like we will do in our Christmas party.

Today's Sake
Ipponjime Koshinohakugan (Nakagawa Shuzo)
Honjozo Ipponjime Koshinohakugan
Again, I was attracted by the name "Ipponjime," which is the name of a rice variety, and I purchased this sake because of this name. Since I heard this rice variety had decreased in crop yields recently, I wondered what type of variety this was and became interested in it.
The sake exhibits elegant balance between various sensations of flavors while possessing keen dryness.
The rice used has been polished down to 57%, which is low enough to be called ginjoshu in terms of seimaibuai. So, I can say this is a posh sake.
Rice used: Ipponjime
Seimaibuai: 57%
Alcohol: 15 -16%


Timothy Sullivan said...

Hi Ichibay,

I have just found your blog and enjoy reading it! Please check out my New York City Blog about sake:

I will link to your site from my blog if that is OK. I think my readers would enjoy your website.

Also, I really enjoy Kimono and have recently started taking lessons for Men's kimono dressing with a Japanese Kimono teacher here in New York.

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Tim Sullivan

Ichibay said...

Tim Sullivan san

Thank you for your comment.

Of course, you are welcome. I will also link to your site.

I checked you site, and enjoyed reading an article of your blog. You seem to be a great sake fun. If you have a chance to visit Tokyo, let's wear kimono and drink a lot of sake.

Thank you and Happy New Year!