To all the afficionados: I am based in the UK. I am relatively poor. I have no knowledge of what sake is supposed to taste like. Given these limitations I would still like to offer sake in my encampment. I can purchase several varieties from the Japan Centre in London www.japancentre.com/?cmd=cat&cid=184&refer=cat Are any of them worth the money, and would you recommend any of them to a "beginner"? Comments that describe the varieties also welcome.
Post by Imagawa Tadamori on Apr 16, 2009 14:32:36 GMT -5
Here is your "crash course" in sake.
Sake is judged by many of the same elements wine is: brightness, acidity, sweetness, finish, etc. Some retailers don't even keep sake in its own category - you'll find it in with the wines.
Go to www.esake.com and www.sake-world.com. Read thoroughly. This will bring you up to speed in an hour or two, and you'll know what you're looking at when you read a sake label. Pay attention as to how to read a sake's sweetness/dryness, acidity, and SMV (Sake Meter Value). These numbers, combined with the description of the sake, will give you a reasonable approximation of what the sake will taste like (and take some of the guesswork out of the labels).
I do not recognize the brands listed on the Japan Centre website, so I have no opinion on them. However, the two rules of thumb that I tell folks that are new to sake are: 1.) Buy your first bottle of sake according to the qualities that you like in a white wine; i.e., if you like dry wine, buy dry sake. This will give you a good starting point/baseline to work with, and you can adjust accordingly in future purchases. 2.) Generally speaking, any 720/750ml bottle of sake that costs less than 7 quid/$10 is probably not worth drinking. If there is an exception to that guideline, I have yet to find it. Your mileage may vary.
Read the other sake posts in this section to get an idea of what others like, and to make use of the fact that they have already done a lot of taste-testing. Also, your local liquor stores may be able to order sake for you if they do not have it in stock. Some Internet sake retailers may ship to the UK - shop around.
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Greetings from Solveig! The answer to your sake question naturally depends upon what your goals are. If you are primarily interested in recreating pre-modern Japan, then you should try to get ahold of some sort of amazake. Amazake is sort of milk colored and should be rather sweet. It is not at all what modern sake drinkers and other pub crawlers would be expecting.
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