I LOVE WINE!  I love going to wineries to sample local varieties.  I love smelling the aromas, the way my taste buds tingle during tastings, and holding my glass up to the light to inspect the liquid in my glass.  I love talking to the owners and wine makers, hearing their stories about the winery, and getting to know the winery dog.  I especially love going on wine trips with my girlfriends!  All in all, I just love wine.  I love the wine itself, and the experience that is wine tasting.  I was really hoping that this love for wine would transfer into a love of sake tasting, but so far, that is not the case.

Before we moved to Japan, I had tried sake a few times, and I never really liked it.  I thought maybe it was because I had never had good sake, or that perhaps it was an acquired taste.  If it is in fact an acquired taste, it is a taste I would like to acquire while we are living in Japan.  The O Club was holding a sake tasting and seminar, so we bought tickets and were excited to learn more about sake and to do some tastings.  This was truly a seminar, and included a three hour lecture on every aspect of sake brewing, tasting, serving, and purchasing that you would ever want to know.  The seminar was taught by a Sake Sommelier, Ad Blankestijn, and most of it was a bit over my head.  Some things I learned about sake:

  • Sake has been the national drink of Japan for almost 2,000 years.
  • Sake is made of rice, koji (a mold), yeast, and water.
  • There are more than 1,400 sake breweries in Japan.
  • Rice comes in different qualities, like everything else.  Who knew?
  • Japanese sake only uses Japanese rice.
  • They have to polish the rice first.  The more expensive your sake, the more polished your rice.
  • There are four grades of sake: Honjozo, Junmai, Ginjo, and Daiginjo.
  • I still have no idea how to tell the difference between the four.
  • Most quality sake is served in wine glasses.
  • Sake is closely connected with Shintoism, and you will see sake barrels at Shinto shrines.

During the lecture, we sampled a variety of sake with food pairings.  I greatly enjoyed the food pairings, especially the sushi and tempura.  The sake on the other hand….not so much.  While I’m glad that we attended this sake tasting, I still have no taste for it.  Most of my glasses stayed full, as I couldn’t bring myself to have more than a few sips.  Despite our first sake tasting lacking anything I could drink, I haven’t given up hope yet!  We still have three years to acquire a taste for sake!