The Ultimate Guide to Sake & Namazake with Deja Vu Sake Co

Déjà vu Sake Co has showcased their latest Namazake (unpasteurized Sake) releases with co-owner and sake expert, Yukino Ochiai featuring family-owned and operated sake producers.

Sake & Namazake with Deja Vu Sake Co
Yukino Ochiai – Photo Credit: Supplied

What is Sake

Sake is a unique Japanese alcoholic beverage with more than 2000 years of history. Brewed from rice, pure mineral water, yeast and a mould called “koji” responsible for the conversion of starch in the rice to fermentable sugars, the production process is more akin to beer than wine or whisky resulting in alcoholic beverage between 13% to 17% ABV.

What is Namazake

Namazake, also called Nama, is a seasonal unpasteurised sake available from winter to early summer. This type of sake is extremely sensitive to heat and matures a lot faster than non-Nama sake hence it must be kept refrigerated at all times. The flavour profile is characterised by having an extremely fresh, bright and expressive taste with a lingering finish. Namazake usually has higher level of ABV around 19%.

Difference Between Sake & Namazake

Sake has no preservatives so it undergoes pasteurisation twice at a temperature of 60 to 65o Celsius. Pasteurisation is done before storing (after filtration) and a second time before shipping out (after storage). Freshly filtered sake can be rough in texture and lively in flavour, so it is normal to rest sake between 6 months and 1 year to settle and balance out the flavours.

In contrast, Namazake, which is also preservative free, does not undergo the pasteurisation process resulting in a brew that requires refrigeration at all times to prevent enzymes from activating. Once opened, it must be consumed soon. Namazake conveys the essence of the brew with a bold, fresh, vibrant flavour and at times more layered than non-Nama sake.

Categories of Sake

Sake is defined by how much the rice was milled or polished before brewing. In some categories, a small amount of distilled alcohol is added to make sake lighter and aromatic.

  • Daiginjo – rice is polished down to 50% or less with small amount of distilled alcohol added
  • Ginjo – rice is polished down to 60% or less (ie 40% of rice remains) with small amount of distilled alcohol added
  • Junmai Daiginjo – rice is polished down to 50%
  • Junmai Ginjo – rice is polished down to 60% (ie 40% of rice remains)
  • Junmai – no longer requires a specified milling rate
  • Honjozo – rice is polished down to 70% or less (ie 30% of rice remains) with small amount of distilled alcohol added

How to Drink Sake

Sake & Namazake with Deja Vu Sake Co

L-R: Amanoto Junkara Junmai; Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo’ Houraisen Wa Junmai Ginjo; Dewazakura Dewasansan Junmai Gingo; Tengumai Yamahaijikomi Junmai

Sake is best enjoyed chilled, at room temperature or warm during the cold winter months.

Once a bottle of Sake is opened, it’s best to keep it sealed and stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

How to Pair Sake and Namazake with Food

Sake (and Namazake) has a mild taste with a hint of acidity, bitterness or astringency plays well with umami flavours. As well as an accompaniment to Japanese food, Yukino Ochiai recommends drinking it with red meat, pizza, pasta and cheese.

Déjà vu Sake Co’s producers are from Akita, Yamagata, Niigata, Ishikawa, Aichi, Kagoshima and Nagano where each producer is a family business passing on their craft to younger generations. Yoshinogawa is the oldest Sake brewery in the range, being over 450 years old and presided by with 19th generation of owners while Amanato is the youngest in the portfolio with a history going back to 1917.

Namazake
Namazake

  1. Amanoto Junkara Junmai Muroka Nama (RRP $66)
    • lively and fresh, more robust character and waxy mouthfeel
    • complements light dishes
  2. Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo Nama Genshu (RRP $79)
    • more layered and textural
    • suited to heavier style of food, goes well with cheese
  3. Houraisen Wa Junmai Ginjo Jukusei Nama (RRP $75)
    • very funky on the nose while the palate is light and delicate with a velvelty mouthfeel
    • well suited to umami flavours
  4. Dewazakura Dewasansan Junmai Gingo Muroka Nama Genshu (RRP $74)
    • loads of fruit on the palate, with notes of pineapple as it warms up in the glass
    • complements strong umami flavours with a hint of sweetness
  5. Tengumai Yamahaijikomi Junmai Nama Genshu (RRP $66)
    • lots of umami and acidity with lot of minerality
    • designed to complement heavy food such as wagyu beef

Sake & Namasake Pairing at Cho Cho San

Déjà vu Sake’s collection was showcased at a special lunch held at Cho Cho San in Potts Point. Below is the selection of Sake and Namazake paired with the food by Head Chef Nicholas Wong.

Cho Cho San

Edamame Dip

Cho Cho San

Eggplant Miso Stick

Cho Cho San

Sashimi Yuzu, Leek

— paired with Amanoto Junkara Junmai and Amanoto Junkara Junmai Muroka Nama

Cho Cho San

Lobster Tempura, Ponzu

— paired with Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo and Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo Nama Genshu

Cho Cho San

Eggs ‘n’ Rice

— paired with Houraisen Wa Junmai Ginjo and Houraisen Wa Junmai Ginjo Jukusei Nama

Cho Cho San

Miso Cod, Celery Salad

— paired with Dewazakura Dewasansan Junmai Gingo and Dewazakura Dewasansan Junmai Gingo Muroka Nama Genshu

Cho Cho San

Teriyaki Wagyu, Shallot Salad

Cho Cho San

Braised Mushroom Hotpot

— paired with Tengumai Yamahaijikomi Junmai and Tengumai Yamahaijikomi Junmai Nama Genshu

Where to Drink Namazake

Namazake is only available for a limited time during the year. You’ll find it in the following Sydney restaurants: Cho Cho San, Sokyo, Tetsuya’s, Sushi-e, Est., Goros, Yayoi Garden Japanese Restaurant, Toko and Sake Restaurant The Rocks.

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The Ultimate Guide to Sake & Namazake with Deja Vu Sake Co was last modified: August 24th, 2016 by Corinne Mossati

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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, 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.

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