Feb 23, 2012

Sake tasting

Last Saturday, I attended a sake drinking party held in an izakaya in Tachikawa City.

This izakaya is holding sake drinking parties at a rate of twice a year and gather their frequent customers to a party. This time, attendees paid reasonable admittance of 5,000 yen and could drink almost all the types of sake at this izakaya. So, this was a nice reasonable party for sake drinkers.

We had a sake tasting game during the party. The following is what the tencho, or izakaya manager said to us:

"There are four bottles numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4. Two bottles contain different types of that famed Juyondai, and others contain some other sake. First, taste all the sake types in these bottles, and then you must choose the two bottles that you think are Juyondai. I will give you a glass of very special and expensive sake if you choose the right bottles."

I thought, "I see, this will be difficult for me. To distinguish sake is not very difficult for me, but to name sake is very difficult." So, I decided to use the tactics to select two most balanced and elegant bottles.

Bottle 1: Richness, bouquet, acidity, and other elements were well balanced leaving a favorable impression. I personally loved it, but it had rather strong impact. I think expensive sake is modest in many cases.

Bottle 2: This was rich and elegant. I thought this was a right bottle.

Bottle 3: I felt a strong alcoholic impression and I didn't like it very much. So, I excluded this bottle from the candidates.

Bottle 4: Clear and light sake, and I liked it. Someone told me that this tasted like an alcohol added sake version of bottle 2, and I agreed with her.

So, I chose bottles 2 and 4. However, actually the correct bottles were bottle 2 and bottle 3. The no. 3 bottle I first excluded from the candidates was Juyondai Honmaru. Incidentally, the one I liked best was Sasaichi from Yamanashi Prefecture. As to bottle 4, I forget the name.

Speaking of sake tasting, the izakaya carried two types of NINE from Tsuji Honten. One was namazake, non-pasteurized sake, and the other was hiire, pasteurized sake. So, I compared them.

I first drank this sake in autumn of 2010. It was a hiyaoroshi sake. Then, I found this was my taste.
(In the article "NINE and sake with a self-heating system" I wrote at that time, there is the following description: From this name of bodaimoto, I thought that the flavor of the sake was old-fashioned and crude. No, this is very sophisticated sake. It is very rich in taste and, at the same time, delicate. I like the moderate sweetness of this sake. This is hiyaoroshi sake, which means the sake has been pasteurized once. However, I hardly feel anything caused by pasteurization, and the flavor of this sake gives me a crispy and brisk impression of namazake.)

In the party this time, when I drank the hiire, I felt a bit of bouquet caused by aging and richness in taste, and I thought this was tasty. And, just in front of me was some fatty nice sashimi, making good paring with this sake. Then, I tried the namazake, this was clear and a bit young, leaving a remote impression. It seemed to be shiboritate and too fresh, but maybe it would become mature after some period of aging. Interesting!

Well, I selected the movie below for today. The sake I am drinking in the movie is Sawanoi Risshun Asashibori, which is another shiboritate, but enough enjoyable.

Feb 3, 2012

Soul sake

For the Japanese, sake is not a mere alcoholic beverage but it is very special. Since early times, sake was given important roles and appeared in various scenes such as in ceremonial occasions for the coming of age, marriage, funeral and ancestral worship, religious rituals, prayer for victory by samurais

In these days, people have a wide range of choice of alcoholic drinks and beer and other beverages have gained in popularity. However, when it counts, sake is a must. I have never heard that they exchange cups of wine in Shinto wedding ceremony

Low priced sake is enough for evening drink. Sake drunk feelingly in the evening gently praises the effort and industry of the drinkers on the day, give their mind and body energy, and restores the drinkers' will to work hard again tomorrow. Such sake is nice sake.

The video I present below was a commercial message of sake that was once being produced in Iwate Prefecture, and I think this short movie is well depicting how people enjoy and love sake.

The following is the lyrics of the song, with their reading and my translation:

岩手故郷よ  (Iwate furusato yo:  Iwate my homeland)
やさしい郷だよ  (Yasashii kuni dayo:  is a gentle land.)
雨も風もな  (Ame mo kaze mo na:  Rain and wind,)
人情もまろいよ  (Ninjo mo maroi yo:  and also peoples heart are mellow and round.)

遠く離れてもよ  (Toku hanaretemo yo:  Even apart far away,)
心は帰るよ  (Kokoro wa kaeruyo:  my heart returns home)
牛追い唄がな聞こえる道をよ  (Ushioiuta ga na kikoeru michi wo yo:  along the way hearing someone's song driving cows.)

心の酒です岩手川  (Kokoro no sake desu Iwategawa  The soul sake Iwategawa)

Unfortunately, the brewery was closed down in 2006, and we can't drink this sake any longer.