The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2016

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Page 54 of 126

52  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2016 Nearly all of the distinguished panelists had flown in from Japan—many for the first time—to present their ultra- premium products, and moderator Peter Granhoff, MS, ventured that the United States had never before hosted such an assemblage of sakés of this quality. Full credit belongs with event sponsors Mutual Trading Co., Inc., the L.A.-headquartered premiere importer and distributor of Japanese foods, and the Saké School of America, the only active professional saké-specific school in the country and a WSET Approved Program Provider. Toshio Ueno guided the tasting of exceptional offer- ings and explained some finer points of saké and shochu production. Ueno is both a Saka Sho (Japanese Master of Saké) and Nihonshugakukoshi (Master Saké Sommelier) who works as Executive Instructor and Vice-President at the Saké School of America. Saké, he reviewed, is brewed from water, rice, yeast (Saccaromyces cerevisiae, the same used in winemaking) and koji (Aspergillus oryzae), a unique Japanese mold that converts starch to sugar. As the koji breaks down rice starch into sugar, the yeast converts those sugars into alcohol at the same time and in the same fermentation batch. This unique parallel fermentation method enables saké to reach the highest alcohol content of 21%+, the highest in the naturally brewed category. Saké has been consumed in some form for two millennia—in its modern A SAKÉ & SHOCHU MASTER CLASS AT THE CIA SOMMELIER SUMMIT T he final afternoon seminar of a multi- day conference is the last place you'd expect to find a room full of rapt lis- teners, but the CIA Sommelier Summit's closing Saké and Shochu Master Class was packed with eager attendees. by Deirdre Bourdet Master Saké Sommelier Toshio Ueno, Executive Instructor & Vice President of Saké School of America, speaks to the CIA Sommelier Summit's closing Taste of Japan: Saké and Shochu Master Class. PHOTO COURTESY OF MUTUAL TRADING CO., INC. Pageant of Distinction, Finesse & Legends

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