James Bond preferred to drink his at 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or 36.8C to be precise. Warm, chilled or room temperature, sake comes in a range of flavours to suit various types of food.
In this masterclass held during Taste of Sydney, Nick Stock of Gourmet Traveller Wine and Yukino Ochiai of Deju Vu Sake presented a tasting of five different styles of sake with food recommendations.
Sake Masterclass in order of tasting
Sake is often referred to as rice wine but it is a spirit that is brewed using traditional methods from a specific type of rice. The grain is harvested in September/October, polished and washed where it absorbs approximately 30% of water. The rice is then steamed and fermented with no sugar added. Koji mould converts starch to glucose to create alcohol.
Houraisen Beshi Tokubetsu Junmai
Located in the Aichi prefecture midway between Tokyo and Osaka, Houraisen Beshi Tokubetsu Junmai comes from an area 500m above sea level with cool climate all year through. This a lighter style of sake reflects its terroir, with notes of tropical fruit and a smooth texture which comes from one of the softest waters in Japan. This sake is best served warm or at room temperature and makes a good accompaniment to chicken, yakitori and semi hard cheeses.
Amanoto Junmai Ginjo
Amanoto is located 300 km north of Tokyo, an area that has about 2 to 3 metres in snow and is home to Amanoto Junmai Ginjo. Crisp and elegant, it exhibits fruitiness and a pureness of character. It finishes dry with zesty citrus, almost like a Riesling. This sake is best served chilled or at room temperature and makes a good accompaniment to sushi, sashimi, tempura and beef carpaccio.
Yoshinogawa Gokujo Ginjo
Located in the Niigata prefecture, this sake house dates back to 1548. Yoshinogawa Gokujo Ginjo is aromatic with a delicate fruity style, a herbal edge, soft acidity and a clean, crisp finish define this highly polished sake. Drink it chilled or with ice with sashimi, red flesh tuna and uden.
Dewazakura Dewa Sansan Junmai Ginjo
From the Yamagata prefecture north of Tokyo comes Dewazakura Dewa Sansan Junmai Ginjo, a brewery that uses a special type of rice called Dewa Sansa, developed to suit their climate and soil. The process took 11 years to perfect and the sake is aromatic, savoury and deeper in flavour with a zingy acidity and a tannin-like finish. Served chilled or warm, it goes well with fish tempura, fried tofu and tonkatsu.
Tengumai Yamahai Jikomi Junmai
From the Ishikawa prefecture, Tengumai Yamahai Jikomi Junmai is made by Yamahai method using traditional sake-making techniques where wild yeast and natural fermentation give it depth and colour. A savoury style of sake with earthy characters, it has leather, cedarwood with an aroma of freshly-shaved truffles. This sake can be served chilled to room temperature and goes well with grilled fish, scallops, and soy-flavoured dishes such as sukiyaki and miso hot pot.
L-R: Andrew Cameron (Deja Vu Sake), Yukino Ochiai (Deja Vu Sake), Nick Stock (AGT Wine)
When it comes to the correct temperature for serving sake, aside from personal preference, aromatic sake is best served chilled at 15C and warm sake at 40C.
Contrary to popular belief, a microwave is not the best method to warm sake as it only heats the top of the liquid. Pour hot water into a bowl and place a ceramic vessel containing the sake in it for 5 to 10 minutes.
Once a bottle of sake is opened, it should be enjoyed in 7 to 10 days for optimum flavour.
The masterclass was held at Taste of Sydney 2013 at the Plumm Taste Wine Theatre presented by Gourmet Traveller Wine.
Taste of Sydney 2013 series:
Best in Taste Awards
Taste of Sydney: Chefs, Restaurants & Taste Menu
Taste of Sydney: Bars, Cocktails and Spirits
Champagne Masterclass with Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine
Wine Tasting with Exclusive Vines and Pizzini Wines
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