The charm of sake is that it shows various faces according to the delicacies with which it’s combined, its temperature, and the differences in the vessel in which it’s served. The harmonizing elegance it displays while bringing out the strengths of its partner foods is its distinctive characteristic.
While enjoying the “gentle tipsiness” unique to sake, how about searching for your preferred flavor? Time spent with sake brings a smile to one’s face without fail!
“Marriage, Drinks with the Family” is a section where Yoko Suganami, a sake specialist who has visited over 10 thousand restaurants both in Japan and abroad, introduces various local Seto Inland Sea region sakes, and what are in her view the best foods to go with them.
This time I selected a Hyogo prefecture sake that you should definitely try:
“Hakushika Ozu Shiboritate” brewed by the Tatsuuma Honke Brewery.
In addition to the 4 main elements included in sake, 1) fragrance rate 2) umami rate 3) acidity rate 4) sweetness rate, the graph expresses the “rate of locality” (Setouchi rate) which I added to express how locally the rice and yeast utilized is sourced.
Known for Nada Sake, Hyogo prefecture, the largest sake production area in Japan, has prospered as a famous sake-brewing region since the Edo period. While the region is blessed with the ingredients essential for sake brewing, brewer’s rice and Miyamizu water (high quality mineral water), cold winds from the Rokko mountains and the Seto Inland Sea area’s climate help in brewing, the techniques of the Tamba Toji (brewers) and the convenient location of Nishinomiya harbor, which is perfect for transporting sake, make the area ideal.
This time I visited Ozu, a sake salon operated by the Nada Sake brewery, Tatsuuma Honke Brewery, and experienced a marriage of sake that piqued my curiosity!
Due to the quality of the local water, many Nada sakes are dry and have a ‘bite’, and are therefore often referred to as otoko-sake (men’s sake).
Today I’m going to introduce Hakushika Ozu shiboritate sake. This one is actually futsushu, (ordinary sake*)! Ozu is sold in trendy looking bottles, the shape of which is very smart and looks somehow lovely even when pouring.
*Ordinary sake (futsushu): Seishu (refined sake) that does not correspond to a specific class name such as honjyouzou, junmaishu, or ginjoshu is called futsushu, i.e. ‘ordinary sake‘.
Ordinary sake has the image of something you happen to have at hand, a beverage enjoyed regularly as a night cap. However, in line with the image of its bottle, Hakushika Ozu Shiboritate is such a refreshing and refined sake that you may start doubting that it is actually ordinary sake! However, it also has characteristics typical of futsushu, a flavor you won’t grow tired of and one you can share with anyone.
Marriage with food
Giving off an elegant La France pear fragrance, I was served a rare combination of Hakushika Ozu shiboritate with green tea infused with cold water, and a luxurious Japanese sweet called “Kobai mochi” (‘red blossomed plum rice cake’).
Recommended serving temperature
I recommend enjoying this simple and refreshing sake either chilled or at room temperature!
Okay then, let’s try it!
The bite of the sake is softened by matching it with the delicate, refined sweetness of the “Kobai mochi”. On the other hand, combining it with the dryness of the sake, the flavor of the sweet becomes even rounder. It’s a truly well-matched combination where instead of losing the characteristics of each party, the fusion gave birth to a further abundance of flavor! The chilled tea clears the palate and acts as a livening-up act for the marriage between the sake and the sweet.
The vessel in which the sake was served was apparently designed with the image of a flower bouquet in mind.
Another drinking vessel that caught my eye at the salon was this wooden cup.
Pouring sake from the wooden pail, the sound of the sake being poured into the wooden vessel, and its scent… It was a truly luxurious experience that allowed me to enjoy the sake with all five senses.
Traveling together with sake, you learn about the food culture, the history and the people of each region. By searching for your preferred sake and delicious snacks, and choosing a wonderful vessel to drink it from, you’re sure to find new sake flavors while increasing your appreciation of this wonderful beverage.
Tatsuuma Honke Brewing Co., Ltd.
http://www.hakushika.co.jp/lineup/selection/ozu/index.php (Japanese – some information available on English site, but not on Ozu)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers: Yoko Suganami & Makoto Esaki (Rainbow Sake Co., Ltd.)
Yoko Suganami Rainbow Sake, Inc. After an extended stay in Hawaii, in 2011, I returned to my hometown of Kure, Hiroshima. Having worked at advertising companies in both Japan and Hawaii, I founded Rainbow Sake - a PR company with the goal of spreading Sake abroad. I hope that sake will ""bring the people of the world together"" and that I can be a part of that. I often travel abroad, and mostly to Hawaii and Singapore. Every time I come back home, I rediscover the beauty of my hometown and the happiness the easygoing, calm, fresh and simple sea and mountains of Setouchi bring.
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