Sake for the Holidays
By Elise Gee
Consider a kanpai for Christmas cheer this year!
Sake continues its ascent as a popular tipple outside the realm of Asian restaurants. Premium grade sake has grabbed the attention of serious wine lovers, so much so, even high-end beverage companies are taking note.
Régis Camus, the acclaimed Champagne producer, recently introduced its own luxury brand called HeavenSake. It’s a far cry from the days where the only sake at a sushi restaurant was in a cardboard box ready to dispense scalding hot sake. The depth of sake now available in Canada is fantastic and our demand for more appears insatiable.
Here are some notable choices for a gift, to serve for a party or to enjoy as a personal treat. Prices listed are BCLDB, before taxes, and may be higher at private liquor stores.
Fuji Takasago Sparkling Junmai Ginjo
Fuji Takasago Brewery, located at the foot of Mount Fuji, uses the famed mountain’s spring water to produce their soft elegant sake. This junmai ginjo uses Yamada Nishiki rice polished to 60%, creating a smooth sake with notes of musk melons, ripe bartlett pear. Plus there are fun bubbles, making this a delightful easy-to-drink sipper. Try it with some full fat brie or fish n chips.
Approx $17.99 for 375ml
Alberni BCLDB Store, Kitsilano Wine Cellar
Tatsuriki Komeno Sasayaki Daiginjo
Hyogo Prefecture’s Tatsuriki Brewery is famous for using the area’s native top tier (and there are several levels) Yamada Nishiki sake rice. After brewing, the sake is matured in cool temperatures for a minimum three years, giving more depth and a smoother, silkier mouthfeel to an already super premium product. Honeydew, green apple and tropical fruit flavours abound in a satisfyingly dry finish. It also packaged in a cool green fuzzy box with shiny gold lettering for extra bling. Try this dazzler with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella or better yet, a Margherita pizza.
Approx $67.99 for 720ml
Alberni BCLDB Store, 39th & Cambie BCLDB Store, Brighouse BCLDB Store
If the Tatsuriki is super premium sake, then Senkin Issei is considered ultra premium with a polish ratio of 35% (65% of the grain has been milled away). The brewery is known for their iconoclast approach to how sake is made and enjoyed—encouraging drinkers to use wine glasses to taste their brews rather than traditional chokko cups. This flavoursome junmai daiginjo is full of ripe nectarines, juicy peaches with a velvety luscious body. Pair with a soft Roquefort or Stilton cheese with fresh sourdough.
Approx $73.99 for 720ml
Alberni BCLDB Store, 39th & Cambie BCLDB Store, Kitsilano Wine Cellar
Elise Gee is a sake educator and is a certified instructor for all WSET sake courses. For info on upcoming classes and events visit her website at VancouverSake.com or follow on Twitter and Instagram.