Take a Look at SAKE and SAKE Making

VINO  LAS VEGAS attended the first Sake Fever a few years ago and could not wait for it to return. Recently Sake Fever returned in a big way with 150 Premium Sakes
and brewmaters to the Palms Pool and Bungalows.

Sake is a whole way of  life and anyone who enjoys Sake should learn about how its made and what the ”  language ” of Sake as well.




Sake
or saké (pronouned /ˈsɑːkeɪ/
in English is a alholic Japanese beverage made from rice.

This beverage is called  sake in English, but in Japanese, sake (酒) or
o-sake (お酒)  refers to alcoholic drinks in general. The Japanese term for this specific  beverage is Nihonshu (日本酒), meaning “Japanese sake”


Sake  is also referred to in English as rice wine. However, unlike
true wine, in which  alcohol is produced by fermenting the sugar naturally present in fruit, sake is  made through a brewing process more like that of beer. To make beer or sake, the  sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from
starch.

Sake is produced by the multiple parallel fermentation of  rice. The rice is
polished to remove the protein and oils from the exterior of the rice  grains, leaving behind starch. A more thorough milling  leads to fewer congeners and generally a more  desirable product.

Newly
polished rice is allowed to “rest” until it absorbs enough moisture from the air
not to crack when immersed in water. After this resting period, the rice is
washed clean of the rice powder produced during milling and is steeped in water.
The length of the soak depends on the degree to which the rice was polished,
from several hours or even overnight for an ordinary milling to just minutes for
highly polished rice.

After soaking, the rice is boiled in a large pot or it is steamed on a
conveyor belt. The degree of cooking must be carefully controlled; overcooked
rice will ferment too quickly for flavors to develop well and undercooked rice
will only ferment on the outside. The steamed rice is then cooled and divided
for different uses.

Some of the steamed rice is taken to a culture room and  inoculated with kōji mold (麹, Aspergillus oryzae).  The mold-laden rice is itself known as kōji and is cultivated until the growth of the fungus reaches the desired level
.

When  the kōji is ready, the next step is to create the starter mash, known as
shubo (酒母), or colloquially, moto (酛). Kōji rice, water, and yeast are mixed
together, and in the modern method, lactic acid is added to  inhibit unwanted bacteria (in slower traditional methods, lactic acid occurs  naturally). Next, freshly steamed rice is added and the yeast is cultivated over  10 to 15 days.

After fermentation, sake is pressed to separate the  liquid from the solids. With some sake, a small amount of distilled alcohol,  called brewer’s alcohol (醸造アルコール), is added before pressing in order to extract  flavors and aromas that would otherwise stay in the solids. With cheap sake, a  large amount of brewer’s alcohol might be added to increase the volume of sake  produced. Next, the remaining lees (a fine sediment) are removed, and the sake  is carbon filtered and pasteurized. The sake is allowed to rest and mature and  then it is usually diluted with water to lower the alcohol content from around  20% to 15% or so, before finally being bottled.

The three types of special designation sake

  • Honjōzō-shu (本醸造酒), in which a slight amount of
    brewer’s alcohol is added to the sake before pressing, in order to extract extra
    flavors and aromas from the mash. This term was created in the late 1960s to
    distinguish it, a premium sake, from cheaply made liquors to which large amounts  of distilled alcohol were added simply to increase volume. Sake with this  designation must be made with no more than 116 liters of pure alcohol added for  every 1,000 kilograms of rice.
  • Junmai-shu (純米酒), “pure rice sake,” made from
    only rice, water and kōji, with no brewer’s alcohol or other additives. Before
    2004, the Japanese government mandated that junmai-shu must be made from rice  polished down to 70% or less of its original weight, but that restriction has
    been removed.
  • Ginjō-shu (吟醸酒), made from rice polished to 60%
    or less of its original weight. Sake made from rice polished to 50% or lower is
    called daiginjō-shu (大吟醸酒).

The term junmai can be added to ginjō or daiginjō,  resulting in junmai ginjō and junmai daiginjō. However, as  distilled alcohol is added in small amounts to ginjō and daiginjō to heighten  the aroma, not to increase volume, a junmai daiginjō is not necessarily a better  product than a daiginjō made with brewer’s alcohol.


In  Japan sake is served chilled, at room temperature, or heated, depending on the
preference of the drinker, the quality of the sake, and the  season.

Typically, hot sake is a winter drink, and high-grade sake is not  drunk hot, because the flavors and aromas will be lost. This masking of flavor  is the reason that low-quality sake is often served hot.Sake is usually drunk from small cups called choko and poured into the  choko from ceramic flasks called tokkuri. Saucer-like cups called
sakazuki are also used, most commonly at weddings and other ceremonial
occasions. Recently, footed glasses made specifically for premium sake have also
come into use.

Another traditional cup is the masu, a box  usually made of hinoki or sugi,
which was originally used for measuring rice. In some Japanese restaurants, as a
show of generosity, the server may put a glass inside the masu or put the masu
on a saucer and pour until sake overflows and fills both containers.

Aside from being served straight, sake can be used as a mixer for cocktails, such
as tamagozake, saketinis, nogasake, or the sake  bomb.

Tōji (杜氏) is the job title of the  sake brewer. It is a highly respected
job in the Japanese society, with  tōji being regarded like musicians or painters. The title of  tōji was historically passed on from father to son; today new tōji are either
veteran brewery workers or are trained at universities. While modern breweries
with refrigeration and cooling tanks operate year-round, most old-fashioned sake
breweries are seasonal, operating only in the cool winter months. During the
summer and fall most tōji work elsewhere, and are commonly found on farms, only
periodically returning to the brewery to supervise storage conditions or
bottling operations

We have been asked about storage and ageability of Sake. In general, it
is best to keep sake refrigerated in a cool or dark room, as prolonged exposure
to heat or direct light will lead to spoilage. Sake stored at room temperature
is best consumed within a few months after purchase.

After opening the bottle of sake, it is best consumed within 2 or 3  hours.[
It is possible to store in the refrigerator, but it is recommended to finish the
sake within 2 days.

This is because once premium sake is opened, it begins to oxidize which
affects the taste. If the sake is kept in the refrigerator for more than 3 days,
it will lose its “best” flavor. However, this does not mean it should be
disposed of if not consumed. Generally, sake can keep very well and still taste
just fine after weeks in the fridge. How long a sake will remain drinkable
depends on the actual product itself, and whether it is sealed with a wine
vacuum top


Sake  Fever provided its guests great opportunity to learn about Sake from the Tōji
themselves. But the easiest way to know Sake is to learn the Four Basic
Components .

RICE : Sake rice is not your regular rice. It is about 3  times more expensive and there are about 60 different types used. But the best  of all Sake rice is “Yamada Nishiki”.

WATER : Water  is 80% of the final product. Sake is made from Rice and requires the essential  ingredient of water. This important element is the “Terroir” in Sake because  each areas water is slightly different.

KOJI : Koji is  a mold spore that is propagated with a special batch of cooked rice . Its  enzymes convert STARCH info fermentable SUGARS . Without KOJI this Rice based  drink will be like “HORCHATA” which is Cinnamon Rice Milk without Alcohol
.

LOVE : This is the Brewers secret where they add their own
special touch or love to make their Sake their own. They do this by using
different rice , water , koji and different techniques of polishing the
rice.



The
term “premium sake ” is not has hard to find as you may think.

\Ginjo Sake Equals Premium Sake
The term “Ginjo” is
synonomous with premium sake, the type of sake exported by eSake’s brewers.
Ginjo is not a brand name. It is a style (a grade, category, class) of sake.
Ginjo sake is to regular sake what single malt scotch is to regular scotch, or
what 100 % agave tequila is to regular tequila. Only 8% to 9% of all sake brewed
is Ginjo grade. If you see the term “Ginjo” anywhere on the label, it means the
sake you’re about to drink is better than 90% of all sake out
there.


A  better way to see the different levels of Sake is our “very own ” Sake
bottle.

Premium versus Non-Premium Sake
Only the highest grades of
sake are exported
to the USA by the brewers introduced at eSake.

Bottle Chart - Premium vs. Non-Premium Sake

In
addition to speaking with these Brewmasters from Japan , guests were able to
sample great dishes from wonderfull dining venues such as Little Budda , Naked
Fish Sushi & Grill , Island Sushi & Grill , Hyakumi , Shibuya and
Japonais


Premium
Sakes , a very inviting pool and great dishes provied guests of the 2nd Sake
Fever and reason to look forward to Sake Fever # 3 , hopefully next year.

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