The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2012

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Page 89 of 152

PAIRINGS ���The stereotyped ideas that American consumers have about sak�� originated with futsu-shuu, or commercial-grade, sak��, which was the only style readily available here twenty years ago,��� says Yoshihiro Sako, sak�� educator and sommelier at Izakaya Yuzuki restaurant in San Francisco. The practice of heating table sak�� is used to increase the umami lavors and downplay aromatics much in the same way that white table wine can be served very cold to disguise high alcohol and coarse lavors. The same principal applies when quality junmai sak�����such as Tozai ���Living Jewel������is gently warmed from 105���110 degrees F; the heat releases more of the L-glutamate that is the source of umami lavor. ���Warm sak�� and warm dishes like nabes or stews are well matched,��� says Beau Timken who owns True Sak�� in San Francisco���s Hayes Valley. ���This kind of pairing is not conined to junmai, there are even daiginjo styles that are fantastic served this way.��� PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG Some Like It Warm Umami Adventure: Hiro Sone���s Fugu Fin Warm Sak�� Cocktail Yoshi Sako, of San Francisco���s Izakaya Yuzuki restaurant, is a licensed kirisake, or sak�� sommelier. Style Guidelines In creating a sak�� list for Izakaya Yuzuki, Sako a licensed kirisake, or sak�� sommelier, and owner Yuko Hayashi included Fukucho ���Moon on the Water,��� a junmai ginjo sak�� from Hiroshima prefecture made by owner Miho Imada, one of Japan���s few female master brewers. ���The water in Hiroshima has a low mineral content and is very soft. This requires a long, slow fermentation that results in a soft, feminine-style sak�� with a strong, dry inish,��� says Sako who pairs this versatile style with a variety of mediumweight foods. For big, dry masculine-style sak��s, Sako looks to Hyogo and Osaka for sak��s that are made with highmineral-content hard water, like Mukune ���Root of Innocence��� Junmai Ginjo, made with highmineral-content hard water, is dry and masculine. Mukune ���Root of Innocence��� Junmai Ginjo. When teaching enthusiasts about sak�� appreciation, he makes a point to emphasize stylistic differences over quality categories largely due to new laws that allow sak�� that is made from rice with any minimum amount of milling to be labeled as junmai, the entry-level category for quality sak��. ���Junmai represents good quality for value, and it���s a good food-pairing style,��� observes Timken. ���We���re also seeing a lot of growth in the nigori [sweet, uniltered sak��] and sparkling styles over the last two years.��� Sako also favors yamahai and kimoto styles, which are made using the oldest methods of sak�� production. These styles rely on natural lactic acids and indigenous yeasts for their distinctive character and they contain higher levels of amino acids and more umami lavor. According to Sako, these sak��s have more structure and pair well with protein-rich, fattier dishes like pork belly. ���Junmai sak��s like Seishu Dewatsuru ���Kimoto��� and Saiya Brewery Yuki no Bosha ���Yamahai��� from Akita prefecture represent the Cabernet Sauvignons of sak�� and, in many ways, they are easier to pair with foods than wine.��� Hiro Sone, owner and chef at Ame restaurant at The St. Regis San Francisco, serves up a seasonal, warm sak�� cocktail���Hire Sak�����that can only be described as the essence of umami. For making Hire Sak��, Sone prefers a honjozo-style ���Karatamba��� sak�� from Hyogo that is clean, dry and neutral without any bitterness. He begins by grilling a sun-dried tora fugu, or blowish in, and then steeps the in for one to three minutes in a covered cup of warm sak��. ���It���s almost like a soup, ��� says Sone as he adds a pinch of salt to bring out the richness of the drink. ���The aromas are like a rice ield meeting the ocean. Ame ��� offers this umami-laden seasonal cocktail for $15 through February 2013. december 2012 / the tasting panel / 89

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