Spirits & Wine

Saké Tasting: Ultimo Wine Centre

On Saturday 15 May 2010, we attended a Saké tasting on the premises of the Ultimo Wine Centre. With 14 varieties on offer, the opportunity to sample the range from Japan and learn about the methods of production was too good to miss.

Saké Tasting UWC

Long before we visited Japan, we had easily taken to the enjoyment of drinking Saké, warm or chilled, depending on the variety or the occasion. The tasting gave us a crash course into the different types of Saké and an opportunity to ask questions and take notes.

Saké Tasting UWC

Saké is made of from Saké rice, pure water, hand-made koji (steamed rice with koji mould spores) and special yeasts. The quality of the Saké is largely dependent on the amount of milling of the premium rice. The more milling the rice grains undergo, the purer the end result will be as this allows less impurities into the final product and more of the starch in the grain that causes fermentation.

Saké Tasting UWC

Junmai Saké is the most basic. With a minimum of 30% of rice grain milled away and an alcohol content of 15% to 16%, the flavour is often mild and average.

Junmai Ginjo Saké
has at least 40% of the rice milled away and results in a complex and sometimes more fruity Saké.

Junmai Daiginjo Saké is considered to be the top end of the range, with at least milling 50% of the rice grain which leaves a finer, more complex and more fragrant Saké.

Saké Tasting UWC

Some Sakés are best served warm but they should not be brought to a temperature higher than 30 to 40 degrees Celsius as some of the alcohol begins to evaporate.

Saké Tasting UWC

In the 007 movie, You Only Live Twice, James Bond was already educated. “I like Saké , especially when it’s served at the correct temperature, 98.4F, like this is.”

Saké Tasting UWC

We tasted all the varieties including a dessert-style Saké with hints of peaches, shown in the photo on the left. The ones shown in bold are the ones we enjoyed the most.

Saké Tasting UWC

1. (Name Missing)
2. Kikumasumune Taru Junmai
3. Hakutaka Kinmatsu Tokubetsu Junmai (Golden Pine)
4. Yuki No Bousha Yamahai Junmai (Cabin in the snow)
5. Niwa-No-Uguisu Tokubetsu Jumnai (The Nightingale of the Garden)
6. Nate Shuzo Koroushi Junmai (The Black Bull)
7. Taiheizan Shingetzu Junmai (Holy Moon) – made in Western side of Japan, more mature with good acid
8. (Name Missing) Blue Bottle
9. Sawanoi Daikarakuchi Jumnai (Well in the stream) – best dry variety, best served very chilled
10. Tenryou Junmai Sake
11. Ninkiichi Kuroninki Junmai Dai Ginjo (“Best Popularity”)
12. Kukusui Junmai Ginjo Sake (Chrysanthemum Water)
13. (Name Missing)
14. Yuki No Bousha Yamahai Junmai Gingo (Cabin in the snow)

Forming part of our Foodie Triangle, the Ultimo Wine Centre holds regular wine tastings as well as the Annual Champagne Tasting.

Next – Grace Wine: Japanese Wine Tasting at the Ultimo Wine Centre

Saké Tasting UWC

The Saké collection at the Ultimo Wine Centre

Ultimo Wine Centre
Shop c21/99 Jones St
Sydney NSW 2007


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.