For my birthday last week, my friend Rob purchased a bottle of Japanese rice wine for me - sake.
It's a pretty darn nice one.
Sakura Dai-Gingo (bottle on right, box in center) brewed by the Okunomatsu Sake Brewery Co. Ltd. of Nihonmatsu-shi, Fukushima-ken, Japan was a Gold Medal winner at the 2014 Toronto International Sake Challenge in the Dai-Ginjo class, and the best tasting sake, according to Rob's buddy over at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) store over on the Lakeshore west part of Toronto.
The bottle on the left is another Okunomatsu sake - Tokubetsu Junmai - another bottle procured by Rob for me months ago.
Sorry Rob, I admit to being a bit of a peasant when it comes to sake.
I am unsure - taste-wise - what separates a good sake from a great sake, but all I can say is... hang on... I'm going to crack the seal on the bottle and have a chug... oooh... smooth. That's very nice.
Like any good sake, it has the consistency of water and goes down, for me, just as easily.
Others, with a far better sense of taste will tell us that this clear 15.4% sake has:
Aromas of vanilla nut brittle, coconut water, and papaya custard with a silky, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a pineapple sorbet, meringue, and salted radish accented finish. A soft, alluring sake with a nice balance of fruit.
I suppose. I can taste the sake... have no concept of what vanilla nut brittle tastes like... and neither do I have any clue about papaya custard... no wait... it's there... on my breath... holy crap... I can taste the papaya custard!
I would have NO way of ever describing that... it could never occur to me to think so, but dammit... knowing that it's there, I can taste it!
It is dry, too. The last sake Rob bought me (Rihaku Nigori Sake - Dreamy Clouds from Rihaku Sake Brwery Ltd. of Shimane-ken) was definitely sweeter... this is drier... Hmmm... I'm not sure which I prefer... I have a sweet tooth.
Let's see... the 15.6% alcohol Dreamy Clouds was a Tokubetsu Junmai grade sake that is creamy, fruity complex sake made with water Gohyakumangoku rice, aspergilus oryzae (koji), yeast.
The Sakura Dai-Ginjo sake Rob just purchased for me is made with Mineral water, polished rice, koji yeast and Brewers alcohol. Hmm... definitely more flavors in this one... just drier and not as sweet as the Dreamy clouds.
It really boils down to whatever taste you prefer.
Man... I've been switching back and forth between these two bottles - enjoying myself completely...
I guess both are really, really good!
Like the Sakura Dai-Ginjo, the Dreamy Clouds Tokubestsu (special) sake also won a Gold Medal at the 2014 Toronto International Sake Challenge - but I believe for the Junmai class category.
Which is better, Junmai or Dai-Ginjo sake style?
Here - take a look for yourself - click to enlarge:
I think I prefer the Dreamy Cloud sake... no wait... the Sakura Dai-Ginjo... no wait... hmmm... maybe more tasting is required.
Crap... I am so out of practice and I have work tomorrow.