Archive for the ‘Sake’ Category

Advertisement for Sake Tasting

March 19, 2008

It’s pretty cool this year. You will get to taste sake that you will never be able to in this country. Brewers will bring sakes that are submitted to this year’s National Sake Appraisal to be held in May this year. New Sake is very intense, and is truly a rare opportunity. Hurry and buy your ticket before it’s gone!!

Annual Sake Tasting & Lecture:
The 100-Year History of Sake Appraisal
Thursday, April 3 at 6:30 pm

For 100 years, Japan’s National Sake Appraisal has pushed brewers in a spirit of friendly competition toward continuous improvement in the art of sake making, as manifested in its flavors and aromas. Unlike industries that change as a result of new technologies, sake making still depends largely on the subtle quality of rice and water, unpredictable weather, and the skill and artistry of brew masters that allows both established products and lesser known new entrants with high quality sake to win medals in the competition. In this program, John Gauntner, renowned sake expert and a founding member of Sake Export Association, discusses how 100 years of history of sake appraisal has changed the sake industry and aided in the development of new flavors, aromas and styles. Participants will have the opportunity to taste many of the sakes that will be presented at Japan’s National Sake Appraisal in spring 2008. Co-sponsored by the Sake Export Association.

Tickets: $35/$30 Japan Society members & seniors

Must be 21 years of age.

For tickets, order online at or call Box Office at 212-715-1258.

Held at Japan Society
333 East 47th Street
New York, NY 10017

The Sake Samurai at Astor Center

January 25, 2008

Last week, Urban Sake‘s Timothy Sullivan was kind enough to invite me to his ongoing sake tasting course, “The Elements of Sake” at the Astor Wine and Liquor Shop’s very new and swanky Astor Center (just around the corner from the shop). It was the second class ever to take place in the gleaming space– complete with sparkling white tile counters, a censored stainless steel sink between every other person, reclining leather chairs, a beautiful test kitchen behind the front counter, and LCD screens right above it.

The place was packed! Every seat was taken– I took Erin* as my guest and we sipped while listening to Tim talk passionately about sake. He went through the types of sake (Junmai, Ginjo, Daiginjo), must-know terms, ingredients, the brewing process, and added his own personal tidbits of how he came to learn about sake. He was recently invited to Japan in honor of his devotion for sake, and he’s been awarded the title of “Sake Samurai”, which only two Americans hold. WOW!

Here’s a list of the sakes we tried (with my notes- increasing in quality and price I believe):
– Urakasumi (Junmai- sweet, full, good to serve warm)
– Hakkaisan (Ginjo- crisp, smooth)
– Rihaku (Nigori- creamy, sweet)
– Wakatake (Nama- sweet)
– Dassai (Junmai Daiginjo- fruity, sharp, clean)

We all had these little remotes that we used to “vote” for our favorite sake. I think everyone loved the last three– I personally always like the second one, which is what my pops drinks.

Tim’s love and knowledge of sake runs deep, and his excitement about it was really infectious. I guess if I could relay one thing that I learned that night, it’s that sake is at it’s best in the season its made for (usually spring or fall). Unlike wine where you wait for years for it to peak, sake should be consumed while it’s still “young”. Astor Wine has a great selection of sakes, as does NY’s own sake shop Sakaya in the East Village.

In total the tasting lasted about an hour and a half. The class is well-paced with great visuals and Tim encourages questions and dialogue- so it’s a great course for sake novices. He’s teaching through the spring for $95 a pop (Mon. 2/18, Wed. 3/19, Fri. 4/18; here’s a 2 spots for 1 promo code I found (sneaky!): ACWelcome)– hurry and sign up cause it’s gonna fill up fast!

*I have been informed by the nice people at Astor Center that the promo code is only available for February programs. A post-Valentines day date maybe?

*All photos by the one and only Erin Gleeson.

Sakaya: First Sake Shop in NYC

January 8, 2008

Irwin tipped us onto a new sake shop in the East Village called Sakaya— the very first sake shop in NYC! Husband-and-wife team Rick and Hiroko opened it in early December, and it is quite a jem of a spot.

Sakaya is located in a small intimate space on East 9th Street- track lighting, wood paneling, with the map of Japan in red ink on one side of the shop (which I’m sure comes in handy when they need to show customers which region a particular sake is from). Rick told us that the folks who designed Jewel Bako and Chickalicious designed it– so you know, clean lines, minimal, sparse.

The sake display is uncluttered neatly edited– more than you would find at Astor Wine, say, but not overwhelming with too many options. They have sakes that New Yorkers never knew existed! Cheap, moderate, expensive, tres expensive; nigori, junmai, ginjo, daiginjo– it’s all here.

They host sake tastings about once a week- which is how we ended up there- they highlight a specific sake each week, bringing in someone from the brewery or a retailer, it’s neat.

Urban Sake‘s Timothy Sullivan was there– he’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to sake, which is helpful for us sake ignorant folk. My dad is a super sake connoisseur, and through the years, I have acquired a taste for good sake. But like wine, it has it’s tricks, and it’s wonderful that Sakaya has opened to share the secret of sake to NYC (they even blog!).

324 East 9th Street (btwn. 1st & 2nd Aves.)
New York, NY 10003