In Japan, millions of people sip the elegant beverage sake while enjoying Japanese cuisine on October 1 – World Sake Day. It’s a 1,000 year old annual tradition to kick off the country’s sake production season. Sake is shared with family and friends during a special meal or festive celebration.
In the United States, Innovative Dining Guide (IDG) employs three sake experts to guide guests in their upscale Sushi Roku restaurants in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Pasadena and Las Vegas and their West Hollywood Katana restaurant.
One of IDG’s Sake Sommelier Eiji Mori offered insight on how sake is made from fermented rice. It is not the same type of rice grain that one would eat. It’s a special rice that is larger, stronger and contains less protein and lipid than ordinary rice.
To make sake, the outer layers of the rice grain and bran are polished off to expose the center. The more that is exposed, the purer the finished sake will taste. Mori said that with sake, there are three different levels –
- Daiginjo is the premium sake to serve with sushi or sashimi. It’s pure, light and offers clean notes that complement the delicate fish without overpowering it.
- Ginjo goes well with acidic dishes, due to its crisp, fruit-forward flavors.
- Junmai grade sake pairs nicely with cooked or fried dishes. It has a bit more body and can hold up against heartier elements.
Even though sake is often called “rice wine,” it is actually more similar to beer. It is not made from fruit, like wine, but a grain. The starch is converted into sugars before being converted to alcohol. Many Americans like to drink their sake warm, however cold sake is better for pairing with food, especially sushi, because warmed sake can obscure the quality of the taste and affect one’s taste buds.
To sip Sake at one of the Sushi Roku locations, go to http://www.innovativedining.com/restaurants/sushiroku