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Japanese sake embraced abroad

thomas

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Good news for sake lovers: France embraces Japanese sake as a match for lighter modern cuisine. :)

Japanese sake is having a moment in wine-loving France, as sommeliers and vintners expand their horizons in response to changing culinary trends. The fifth annual Kura Master sake competition took place in Paris last month, drawing 960 entries, 136 more than in 2020, even with the coronavirus pandemic still looming over the event. Kura Master is shaping up to be among the most influential sake contests outside Japan, after the sake division of the International Wine Challenge in the U.K. [...]

Japan exported about 24.1 billion yen ($218 million) worth of sake in 2020, National Tax Agency data shows, marking an 11th straight year of growth. Roughly 70% went to the top three export destinations of Hong Kong, China and the U.S. France, meanwhile, has been a fast-growing market, more than doubling over the past decade -- a trend welcomed by the industry as Japanese consumption stagnates. Among the biggest names to gain a foothold in France is Asahi Shuzo, the brewer behind the premium Dassai brand.

wakaze-sake.jpg


Wakaze, an "experimental" brewery based in Japan's Yamagata Prefecture, chose Paris as the base for its global expansion. The company set up a second location in the French capital in 2019, making sake with rice from Camargue in the south of France that is aged in barrels built with local materials.

 

nice gaijin

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Those poor sommeliers will have to add this whole genre to their repertoire! Would be interesting to hear what a professional would pair with various sake options...
 
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thomas

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Sake sommeliers aren’t uncommon anymore. Some organisations offer online courses for certification. I’d say the art of sake is (almost) as deep and complex as oenology.
 

Uncle Frank

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Over the years , I sometimes swallowed gas in the automotive business. The one and only time I tried sake , I thought gas tasted better. I hope it was because it was a poor quality one and not all are the same as the one I tried. Two years in Japan and I only tried it that one time.
 

nice gaijin

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Over the years , I sometimes swallowed gas in the automotive business. The one and only time I tried sake , I thought gas tasted better. I hope it was because it was a poor quality one and not all are the same as the one I tried. Two years in Japan and I only tried it that one time.
That reminds me of a time once in college when we compared Jose Cuervo to some tequila that was bought at a gas station in Mexico, and compared to the Mexican tequila (which cost less than $2 for the bottle), I distinctly remember the Cuervo tasting downright like kerosene. Never been a big tequila guy since we polished them both off 😝o_O🤢

There's definitely bad sake out there, but there's a huge variety and some are quite excellent. It helps to have an aficionado to help walk you through them to appreciate them more.
 
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thomas

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My interest in sake was rekindled just three years ago when @Maciamo and I had the most sublime namazake in a small sushi bar in Odawara. We couldn't believe our receptors; it was like an Italian opera performed right on our taste buds. Before that enlightening moment, I associated sake with cheap Ozeki One-Cup available in convenience stores. Actually, some 80 per cent of all sake produced is futsushu, table sake. It's is not bad at all, but if you focus on those 20 per cent of premium sake, you won't be disappointed. The variations are almost as diverse as in wine.

There is a clear trend towards premium sake and more sophistication. @nice gaijin already mentioned food pairing.

Nowadays, sommeliers and aficionados no longer use these for degustation

ochoko.jpg


but these:

riedel-extreme-junmai.jpg
riedel-vinum-daiginjo.jpg



Sake has become very popular overseas, particularly in the US and France. The production of premium sake is no longer restricted to Japan:

sake-world-map.png
 
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thomas

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Vegan-certified sake varieties produced in Tottori to be exported to India.

tottori-sake.jpg


[...] Inoue came up with the project after an Indian acquaintance sought his advice about exporting Japanese sake to his home country. Inoue approached Masahiko Toda, another fellow acquaintance who serves as director at Suwa Shuzo Co. here. According to the team, an estimated 30 percent of India's 1.4 billion population is vegetarian. It received vegan certification from VegeProject Japan, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization, to spur its export drive into this largely untapped market for sake. The team intends to create a digital guide to introduce each brewery's products and deliver sample products to India. It also plans to host an online business meeting in fall to explore business opportunities in India. The members asked Mika Eoka, who lives in Tokyo and promotes Japanese sake in India, to serve as export coordinator. "We want to work together with each brewery and realize our export dream," Toda said. "We also want people of India to become interested in Tottori (Prefecture) to help draw tourists. I think it could prove to have a good influence on domestic sales if more people become curious about Tottori sake selling well in India."

 

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Vegan-certified sake varieties produced in Tottori to be exported to India.

View attachment 49431
... Is there something about sake I didn't know before?? Is the secret ingredient animal products?! Or is this just a certification to make it easier to export and market?
 

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... Is there something about sake I didn't know before?? Is the secret ingredient animal products?! Or is this just a certification to make it easier to export and market?
They can probably slap some kosher designations on there while they're at it. And maybe gluten-free too.
 

thomas

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... Is there something about sake I didn't know before?? Is the secret ingredient animal products?! Or is this just a certification to make it easier to export and market?

Yes, they are just seeking certification. Yeast is definitely not an animal product. :)

They can probably slap some kosher designations on there while they're at it.

That's already happened:


kosher-japan.jpeg
Photo credit: Kosher Japan
 
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