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Savvy way to drink sake

Besides Japanese cuisine, the rice wine pairs well with other foods too, from jamon Iberico to braised duck

Sake sommelier Adrian Goh, 36, fell in love with the Japanese rice wine through his appreciation of Japanese cuisine, but says sake can pair well with foods of other cuisines as well.

He says: "Sake has umami characteristics, making it easier to pair with food, especially those that are savoury or salty."

He says a common misconception about sake among those who have not tried it is that it is difficult to drink.

"Sake can be surprisingly easy to drink, but you have to be aware that it can be quite potent," he says.

"It is one of the few alcoholic beverages that can be enjoyed both chilled and warm."

You can try it out for yourself with ST Wine's latest curated selection of quality sakes. There are 21 Japanese sakes to pick from on ST Wine's online site at special promotional prices. There is also free delivery with a minimum purchase of $160 worth of sake.

  • Attractive wine deals

  • Join the ST Wine Club and be pampered by surprise monthly packages of fine wines delivered to your doorstep.

    The ST Wine Club is a premium wine club of The Straits Times, which works with reputable wine merchants to curate and present a selection of fine wines with the best value.

    Gold packages feature New World wines and Platinum packages feature Old World wines.

    For details and to order, go to STwine.sg

    For inquiries, e-mail STWine@sph.com.sg or call 6319-5076 during office hours.

For more details and to order, go to STWine.sg/sake-other-alcohols

BEST BUYS

Mr Goh recommends some sakes and provides tips on what to pair them with.

Kamoizumi Shusen Junmai Ginjo

ST Wine price: $59 (usual price: $70)

Volume: 720ml This sake, which has represented the Kamoizumi sake brewery's style since 1972, is not carbon filtered. The result is a golden yellow brew with the fragrance of spices and fresh mushroom, with light hints of minerality.

Brewed using Hiroshima Hattan Shisenbon rice, it is markedly different from the usual fruity and floral styles of ginjos. This sake has earthy notes with a rich and cream-like texture. Drink chilled or warm it up to 45 deg C.

Food pairing: Meat dishes such as braised duck. This junmai ginjo is robust enough to pair with spicy dishes such as mapo tofu.

Keigetsu John Sparkling Sake Daiginjo

ST Wine price: $93 (usual price: $116)

Volume: 750ml This sparkling sake from Keigetsu, a brewery in the Kochi prefecture, is almost champagne-like in its dryness and the delicacy of its bubbles. Sparkling sake is starting to gain popularity, the result of an industry effort to standardise and improve its quality in Japan.

Food pairing: Savoury appetisers or small bites such as jamon Iberico or salted egg chips.

Senkin Modern Muku Junmai Daiginjo

ST Wine price: $59 (usual price: $80)

Volume: 720ml This sake is made using Yamada Nishiki, a high-quality short-grained rice.

On the nose, there is an intense perfume of ripe fruit such as peach and pear. It is well-structured with plenty of body and juicy sweetness that is big on fruit flavours.

This is a junmai daiginjo worth buying as it offers exceedingly good value.

Food pairing: Claypot rice, especially with plenty of Chinese sausage and generously drizzled with dark soya sauce.

Kiminoi Junmai Daiginjo Yamahai

ST Wine price: $78 (usual price: $96)

Volume: 720ml For a sake that is sturdy and holds its own when paired with pungent and spicy food, this is certainly one to put in your shopping cart. On the nose, it is soft and playful with stone fruit aromas and cedar. The taste is elegant and clean.

Food pairing: Versatile in terms of food pairing and a good match for grilled seafood such as grilled stingray with sambal belacan.

Imayotsukasa Koi Nishikigoi

ST Wine price: $134 (usual price: $148)

Volume: 720ml The type and grade of rice used to make this sake is deliberately kept secret to allow the drinker to be surprised and appreciate the sake's flavour and aroma without the bias of description. It is crisp and flavourful.

Food pairing: Excellent with Teochew-style steamed fish.


Enrol in a whisky masterclass

Get acquainted with the spirit of whisky at the first whisky masterclass organised by ST Wine.

  • BOOK IT / WHISKY MASTERCLASS PRESENTED BY ST WINE

  • WHERE: Level 3 Homes65 Building , 65 Mohamed Sultan Road

    WHEN: May 25, 7 to 9.30pm

    ADMISSION: $288 nett, includes one bottle of Clan Denny Malt Scotch Whisky, a pair of Schott Zwiesel whisky glasses and ST Wine vouchers worth $50

    INFO: For details and to sign up, go to stwine.sg/event. For inquiries, call 6319-5076 during office hours

Whisky consultant Lewis Mitchell, 59, will guide participants on a sensory journey of whisky appreciation and share tips on how to drink it like a connoisseur.

The session will help you make sense of labels, better identify the styles of whiskies you prefer and make informed decisions when buying them.

He says: "Anyone can learn to appreciate whisky. Arming yourself with a higher level of knowledge of whiskies will give you more confidence to express your opinions."

Participants will get to taste whiskies produced in small batches, including the 25-year-old Cameronbridge 1991. This is a single-cask Highland grain whisky that has beautiful aromas of vanilla, bread pudding, candy floss and sweet spices, a creamy mouthfeel and the flavour of toffee.

Tasting highlights include a 24-year-old Speyside single malt from leading independent bottler Douglas Laing.

"This whisky is a limited and rare experimental bottling from one of Scotland's most famous distilleries. Because the whisky departs from the distillery's house style, the name of the distiller has been deliberately left out of the label," Mr Mitchell says.

"This whisky has complexity and depth of flavour and is a phenomenal old-style whisky, which is difficult to find these days."

The admission fee is $288 a person and each participant will receive $240 worth of goodies, including a bottle of Clan Denny Malt Scotch Whisky, a pair of Schott Zwiesel whisky glasses and ST Wine vouchers worth $50.

Hedy Khoo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 13, 2018, with the headline 'Savvy way to drink sake'. Print Edition | Subscribe