What an incredible learning experience at Kitchen Door Restaurant this past March, 20. Peter Granoff, Master Sommelier and owner of Ferry Plaza and Oxbow Cheese Wine Merchant stores moderated a friendly challenge between Robert Bath (Master Sommelier) and David Glancy (Master Sommelier, Certified Wine Educator, Certified Specialist of Spirits)
The event started with a brief introduction by Peter, about where and how Sake is made. He introduced Bob and David, they both shared their knowledge about Sake and explained why they choose their particular Sake and food pairings for the event. You will probably be skeptical to try Sake with western style food preparations, but these gentlemen did a great job showing how great Sake can accentuate the flavors of the food and how the food can showcase the nuances of the rice wines.
- Some highlights about Sake:
- There are about 1,100 Sake producers in Japan.
- There are about 95 different types of rice for brewing Sake grown in Japan.
- Sake brewing requires two stages: changing the rice's starch to sugar, and converting the sugar to alcohol.
- You need to consume Sake within one year and a half of production.
- After opening a bottle of Sake, it will keep drinkable for about a week if you keep it in the refrigerator.
- Producers can keep brewing Sake all year around.
- The more delicate the food, the more difficult to pair it with Sake.
Each sommelier paired one sake with a dish prepared by Kitchen Door Restaurant, starting with the cream of mushroom soup (scallions, toasted croutons), salmon pastrami sandwich (sauerkraut, Russian dressing, toasted rye bread) and dry rub BBQ pork ribs (spicy coleslaw). Finishing with Abbaye de Bel'loc (sheep's milk cheese from French Pyrenees) and Jasper Harbison (cow's cheese from Vermont, USA). Cheeses Chcourtesy of Oxbow eese Wine Merchant.
These two gentlemen did a great job pairing the sake a food. The Gunma Izumi paired nicely with the soup, more subtle flavors of the wine made the soup shine. The Sword of the Sun (Tokubetsu Honjozo) was more robust, overpowered the soup flavors slightly, but finished dry leaving you a clean palate. The Aizu Chushou showed white flower aromas, rice flower, mineral notes with a hint of sweetness, a great match with the sandwich. The Sawahime showed more savory aromas, fermenting bread dough and rice vinegar. This Sake accentuated the smoky notes on the salmon.
Paired with the BBQ ribs: Southern Beauty (Junmai Ginjo) pleasant flower and citrus aromas and stronger savory flavors, great match for the pork intensified the flavors on the coleslaw. Shared Promise (Junmai) Floral and peppery aromas with robust, savory flavors and hints of mushroom. A great pairing for the BBQ dish, cleansed your palate on the finish with hints of mineral.
Great finale with the cheese dish. Two completely different Sakes for this pairing: Shizengo Cuvee 18, aged Sake in wood barrels with vigorous nutty aromas and flavors and enjoyable acidity. A perfect pairing with the Abbaye de Bel'loc cheese. Pride of the Village (Junmai Ginjo) a more elegant Sake with delicate aromas of white flowers and malt vinegar. On the palate, this wine is a bit dry with a slightly creamy texture, delicious paired with the Jasper Harbison cheese.
Every one of the around 60 people present at the event voted for their preferred Sake and food pairings, Robert Bath won for just one vote, very close indeed. Be adventurous and try Sake not just with Sushi and Japanese dishes, but with more traditional dishes that you cook at home