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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Morriseau

Savor the Flavor

Finally, sake in the US has evolved from being know as 'that hot rice wine' you can only find in sushi bars, to a fine libation in its own right with a range of styles and and flavors that can stand up to a wide variety of cuisines. At the heart of sake's versatility lies the key component: Umami. While the umami in sake has the ability to enhance and lengthen more subtle flavors, it can also smooth out and tame strong, salty or fishy flavors. Here we feature two sake that have the strength of character to stand up to really bold foods, while bringing a little of their own funk!


Watari Bune ‘Ferry Boat’ 55 Junmai Ginjo (Ibaraki) Wataribune

A cult classic and personal favorite, ‘Ferry Boat’ 55 takes its name from the rice used to brew it and the polishing ratio of the grain. Watari Bune is an heirloom variety of rice and one of the few pure sake rice strains still growing today. Here’s the twist: this varietal had actually been extinct for 60 years before being revived in 1988! Huchu Homare Brewery went to the National Agricultural Research Center of Japan and bought a small amount of freeze-dried Watari Bune grain from their seed bank, and brought it back to life. Now, thanks to them, we can enjoy a vintage style of sake with an intriguing balance between freshness and funk, sweet and savory. Aromas burst from the bottle and bloom in the glass; the taste of sun-ripened melon is layered with blossoms, anise and earthy tones, all supported by a velvety mouthfeel. Watari Bune 55 is a true delight to drink on it’s own or with equally bold foods like game bird, monkfish liver or a saucy yaki soba. This is a sake that will make your taste buds sing!

Mantensei ‘Star-filled Sky’ Junmai Ginjo (Tottori) Yamadanishiki, Tamakasae

Suwa brewery makes a sake that perfectly captures the taste that warms your soul: a complex combination of richness, subtle sweetness, lingering savoriness, and deliciousness that is the basis for comfort foods across the world. ‘Star-filled Sky’ makers achieve this umami impact by using a higher ratio of koji rice during brewing, further enhancing it by aging in tanks for three years. Sherry and mead lovers take note! You’ll find aromas of nuts and dried fruit, as well as intriguing hints of soy and cheese, all latticed with honeycomb. Although storing this junmai ginjo cold is recommended, drinking it room temperature or gently warmed is preferred (contrary to popular belief, not all hot sake is cheap and harsh). Simply put, this stuff's da’ bomb. Umami bomb.

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