Japanese Drinks - Happy Hour

The Sake Masters: Time to give the Toji the Respect they D...

Recently, I read an article that came to me mysteriously by email about how winemakers in general deserve more attention and credit. The article suggested that too often folks fall in love with terroir, i.e. all that connects a wine to a certain place, and as such that the role of the person who actually called all the technical shots along the way gets downplayed, and that that shouldn’t be. The ...

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Japanese Sake Etiquette

There are not so many rules surrounding the etiquette of Japanese sake drinking, but it is helpful to acquaint yourself with a few basics. It is polite to fill your drinking partner’s glass first usually the younger person fills the older’s glass, and then your partner in turn fills yours a custom known as henpai - . However, by the end of a night’s drinking, everyone usually ditches polite etique...

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Nihonshu-do: Fuhgedaboudit! A Matter of (Specific) Gravity

John Gauntner, from the archive, on the nihonshu-do  +/- rating system used to indicate dryness or sweetness. Or not! Fuhgedaboutit!… unless you are brewing.

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Listen Up Drinkers! Now you HAVE TO say Kampai with Sake. ...

Several municipalities and one prefecture have put into effect actual legal ordinances  dictating that if you say kampai! it must be with sake (or in one case, shochu, Japan’s indigenous distilled beverage).

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What's Ocha? The Japanese Green Tea Essentials

Relatively New to Green Tea? Here's a Basic Overview of Japan's Wildly Popular Drink, Ocha The expensive powdered form used in the tea ceremony, and added as a flavoring to everything from ice cream to parfaits to Kit Kat bars, is matcha, sometimes termed hiki-cha. However, the common tea of choice for daily drinking is bancha, a coarse tea, invariably drunk hot, and often served free of change in...

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Junmai Ginjo does not really exist, they told me

While visiting an old, very prestigious brewer, I was looking at their lineup. There was no junmai amongst their ginjo offerings. While they had their share of junmai-shu itself, once you got into their ginjo world, there was only non-junmai ginjo products.

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Hatsu-nomikiri: the First Tasting of the Season

Sake breweries are usually fairly quiet in the summer. Except for the few large breweries where brewing continues all year, most places are dark and quiet and empty, as the brewers themselves have gone home for the summer.

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Non-Junmai is Sake Too! Justification From On High

A while back, I participated in an event in Osaka in which I was privileged enough to be a part of a panel discussion with perhaps the most famous toji (master brewer) in existence. Actually, from just last year he took on the title “honorary toji,” and in his place at that particular brewery is another gent that is the de facto toji. Those are some big-ass shoes to fill!

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Changing of the Guard – Sake’s Younger Generation

Last month, I gave a presentation in Boston and then Chicago on trends and changes of late in the sake world. In preparing and delivering that presentation, I realized and was otherwise told a few things about the state of the industry that are very worth observing.

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And the Winners were... Hasegawa Sake Contest Results

From the sake archive, John writes: In any event, the winners of the four categories (junmai-shu, junmai ginjo, junmai daiginjo and yamahai/kimoto) were surprisingly unsurprising. They are all hyper famous, very well selling brands. And remember: the tasting was blind, and by 200 of their peers, i.e. dudes and dude-esses that make the stuff.

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Hasegawa Sake Competition: Surprisingly Not Surprising

From the archives, John writes: This past Sunday, the well-known sake uber distributor Hasagawa Saketen held their yearly “Kuramoto wo Kakomu-kai,” or “Hanging out with Sake Brewers” evening. Loose translations notwithstanding, it is a party that follows a tasting contest.

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The Plum Rains

The rainy season has started. Now is the time when the day's light hangs like twilight from morning on. Everything is wet, the green in the garden greener, the grays in the roof tiles almost patent leather bright. Often a distant thunder is heard like far-off cannons rumbling.

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