Sake

A Sake Extravaganza!

The massive Sake wall as viewed from the upper floor
The massive Sake wall
as viewed from the upper floor

Revisiting something you love is always a burning desire, and so I felt when  invited for an exclusive Sake tasting at the chic Akira Back Japanese restaurant at hotel JW Marriott near Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. The hotel has come up recently on the Indian capital’s hospitality landscape (after overcoming the security hurdles due to proximity to the airport) and has  already started making its presence felt. Akira Back is its contemporary Japanese Restaurant with Korean essence, named after one of Las Vegas’ most beloved and respected chefs- Akira Back.

The Sake tasting was the initiative of Ankur Chawla, the young and accomplished Beverages Manager of the hotel who has several feathers in his cap- from couture cuisine and fine wines to authoring a best seller book! The tasting was conducted by Keith Norum– the Overseas Operations Manager of Miyasaka Brewing Company,  who specially flew in from Japan for the purpose. Their  famous Masumi brand Sakes are imported in India by Brindco Sales Ltd- the top wine importer of the country.

As we entered the restaurant, an imposing Sake wall panning across two floors, shod with numerous bottles and Sake related stuff greeted us  even as we descended to the sous sol private dining  area. Being an early bird (a habit that often surprises my hosts), I took photos at leisure including one with Ankur and Keith before we got into the turbo tasting mode.

About Sake

I have described Sake in details in one of my previous blog posts- For the Sake of Sake. However, for the uninitiated, it would suffice to describe Sake as a fermented drink from Japan, made elaborately  from a special quality of rice and having some of the best characteristics of both beer and wine. It is a unique product whose popularity is exponentially increasing worldwide in tandem with Oriental cuisine.

As a prelude to the tasting, Keith enlightened us on Sake history and the contribution of Miyasaka Brewing Co. towards its advent on the global scene. One thing Ankur highlighted and I found it particularly useful was that the Masumi Sakes invariably have some label information in english as well, which helps a lot in identifying the Sake. Also, with a little bit of practice, one could easily decode the other information written in Japanese, and so, choosing Sake may not necessarily be an alien experience.

Soon enough, the tasting commenced and progressed as under:

The line-up for Tasting
The line-up for Tasting

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Sake: Masumi Sanka
Classification: Junmai Daiginjo super premium
Milling rate: 45%
Alcohol: 16%
Serving Temperature: 10-15°C
Paired with: Yellowtail jalapenos with green chilli, coriander and Yuzu soy.
MRP (Delhi): ₹ 16250.00 (1800ml)

An aromatic Sake with tropical fruit notes- pineapple being most prominent for me. A delightful palate of luscious fruits with subtle acidity. Balanced the fragrant spiciness of the food well.

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Sake: Masumi Karakuchi Ki-ippon
Classification: Junmai Ginjo premium
Milling rate: 55%
Alcohol: 15%
Serving Temperature: 12-15°C (can also be served warm  at 40-48°C)
Paired with: Hot oil seared Salmon with mixed peppers, lotus chips and sesame oil.
MRP (Delhi): ₹ 5610.00 (720ml)

A restrained nose of red apples and flowers. A rounded palate with good acidity and a delicately astringent finish giving impression of firmness. Supported the rich and lush palate of the hot oil seared Salmon.

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kippuku-kinju

Sake: Masumi Kippuku Kinju
Classification: Junmai Ginjo Yamahai premium
Milling rate: 55%
Alcohol: 15%
Serving Temperature: 12-45°C (can be served both cold or warm)
Paired with: Wasabi Pepper Tenderloin with potato purée, wild Japanese mushrooms and wasabi au poivre.
MRP (Delhi): ₹ 10980.00 (1800ml); ₹ 5130.00 (7200ml)

Notice the ‘Yamahai’ in the classification above. It implies that the Sake has been produced using traditional method (using natural buildup of lactic acid rather than adding it externally) a method that is proven to impart richness to the Sake. True to its pedigree, the Sake was mildly fragrant and full flavoured with firm acidity leading to a crisp finish. An ideal accompaniment for red meats and grills.

 

tokusen

Sake : Masumi Tokusen
Classification: Honjozo
Milling rate: 60%
Alcohol: 15%
Serving Temperature: 12-15°C (can also be served warm  at 40-48°C)
Paired with: Sake steamed flounder with baby bok choy, Nori, Yozu Soy
MRP (Delhi): ₹ 3765.00 (720ml); ₹ 2010.00 (300ml)

Considered one of the highly reputed warm served Sakes (having won several medals consecutively in London’s International Wine Challenge) this could well be called a gourmet Sake with a sophisticated palate of floral finesse and good acidity. Paired really well with the Cantonese style Flounder(a flat structured fish)  cooked with a Japanese twist.

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okuden-kanzukuri

Sake : Masumi Okuden Kanzukuri
Classification: Junmai
Milling rate: 60%
Alcohol: 15%
Serving Temperature: 12-15°C (can also be served warm  at 40-48°C)
Food pairing: Sushi and Roll selection
MRP (Delhi): ₹ 5140.00 (720ml)

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Masumi considers this an ideal Junmai with its traits of organic flavours and rice malt sweetness. It was mellow and mild with a perfect balance making it a versatile accompaniment with the range of Sushi and rolls (both vegetarian and non vegetarian) on offer.

 

Thus culminated the riot of flavours with some of the best Sakes available in India as on date. I wish that more Sake tastings are organised at a larger scale, giving an opportunity to wine lovers to experiment with a whole new dimension of flavours. It is only then that the beverage could be seen transcending the boundaries of  5 Star properties or speciality restaurants. Friends of wine would  eagerly await that to happen.

Keith discussing food pairing with the Chef
Keith discussing food pairing with the Chef
Col Joe
wirtten by: Col Joe
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