When many Americans hear the word sake they usually hear another word in quick succession, followed by a loud banging on tables, a volley of splashes, and quick chugging. Sake bombing is not only a big source of income for lower-end Japanese restaurant/karaoke bars but also an introduction to this drink–perhaps, then, it is sort of like white zinfandel, serving as a gateway to the world of alcoholic pleasures waiting just beyond.
I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of most sake. Most sakes one can find in stores or restaurants is terrible–very overtly alcoholic, or jus out of whack. There are many different styles of sake as well, and I’m sure I’ve not had very many of the better ones.
Luckily, I have had one of the better ones: the Hakutsuru Superior Junmai Ginjo sake. (Hakutsuru means “white crane,” by the way.) I was introduced to this at an omekase dinner with my brother and some of his friends at a Westside sushi restaurant and absolutely LOVED it–loved it so much, in fact, that I was sure to record its name in my phone.
Thus, when I saw a bottle of this sake for around $20 at The Wine Specialist I grabbed it up.
I opened it at a small get-together yesterday, having first chilled it for half an hour. The nose is incredible: perfumed with melon, flowers, and, according to my friend Ian, aloe. It is filtered and very clean on the palate. In the mouth, just an overwhelming sensation of melon and perhaps even some rosewater and–according to Alex–chalk. Completely and utterly smooth, gossamer light, with no alcoholic bite or bitter/plasticine aftertaste. Just a wonderfully crafted, dry and floral/fruity sake that would go well either as an aperitif or the finest sushi. Highly, highly recommended.