This post on our sake tasting party was sponsored by Tippsy Sake, and all thoughts expressed here are our own.
For many years neither of us liked sake. It tasted like nothing we had experienced before, and we only ever had it with sushi in a Japanese restaurant. Well now we know what we’d been missing, because we started learning about good sakes and how to enjoy drinking them. With the help of a cool company called Tippsy Sake, we recently conducted a little tasting party. Friends gathered on our back deck with the idea of pairing sake with food that enhanced the flavor of both.
The experience was mind-blowing for me. Yes, we sampled sake with different types of sushi. But it also pairs so well with other types of food we never had even considered.
Sake Tasting Party
When we first tasted sake, it was served warm. Not only that, we didn’t have much money back then so that sake was a lower end product. No wonder we didn’t like it! Room temperature fish and warm sake was not a combination that brought us joy. We did not continue trying.
Now we come to find out we like our sake chilled. It carries a completely different flavor profile and feel in the mouth. Instead of cold beer, we started trying cold sake when we ordered sushi. But we still didn’t really know what we were doing. Enter Tippsy Sake.
But First, What is Sake Actually?
Sake (saw-kay) is a fermented rice beverage that has literally been the toast of Japan for centuries – eons even. It can contain an alcohol content of somewhere in the 15-20% range, and is typically improved with a bit of age. The higher quality sakes are best served chilled, which is said to bring out the best flavors and nuances. Cheaper sakes (see above!) are usually warmed to mask the flavors that might not be as pleasant.
What Foods Go Best With Sake?
Tippsy Sake sent us three different varieties of sake to sample for our sake tasting party. Each is meant to be served cold, and each has its own historic story of origin. As with so many things in the Japanese culture, sake has long traditions and histories of distilleries that span many centuries. They have been perfecting their craft for generations, and this is reflected in the taste and flavor of their sake products.
We tried the following sake brands at our tasting:
Sakura Muromachi “Bizen Maboroshi” – From the Okayama prefecture in western Honshu, the Muromachi brewery has been active for more than 320 years. They use the rice known as Omachi, the oldest surviving sake rice in production. We sampled this one with pepperoni pizza, and it was a fantastic pairing of spicy and smooth.
Tamano Hikari “Classic” – This brewery was established in 1673 and is responsible for reviving the junmai style dormant since WWII. This sake contains no added sugar or alcohol, only rice, yeast and nothing more. It takes earthy and delicious, and went well with a salty breaded chicken dish and tangy sauce.
Hakkaisan “Kijoshu” 2018 – This is a sweet dessert sake, and we tasted it with a creamy French cheese, berries, nuts and pieces of dark chocolate. The pairing was superb – I never would have thought to drink sake as an after-dinner drink. Tasting it with subtle and sweet flavors was a great compliment at the end of an evening tasting feast.
Tippsy Sake Offers a Subscription Box
If you think you’d like to try a variety of sakes and learn more about this ancient beverage, Tippsy Sake has a deal for you! Try their quarterly subscription box to sample a variety of styles and flavors:
- Tippsy Sake carefully chooses 6 different sake (10 oz) for their quarterly subscription box. Each is from a different region in Japan, featuring different styles based on different rice varieties as well as brewing methods.
- Each bottle in the box comes with a product card describing suggested food pairings, serving temperatures and more.
- Your first box comes with a guide for beginners detailing the basics on sake. Information includes explanations on the fermentation process, history and classifications.
The price is $99 per box, which sounds like a great deal to me. At that price, you can host a sake tasting party every three months! Education, fun and delicious? Um, yes please!