Flavours to be discovered and intriguing combinations: our journey into the affinity between drinks and cheeses begins with Sake, the fermented rice drink of the Land of Rising Sun
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SAKE: A COUSIN OF THE WINE
One question above all: what is sake? It is the traditional historical drink of Japan, produced for 3000 years throughout the Japanese archipelago.
It is a fermented drink with an alcohol content similar to that of wine (12-17% vol) which is arousing great curiosity and interest among sommeliers, chefs and enthusiasts.
Sake comes from rice, a central ingredient also in many other cultures: rice accompanies local ingredients as an alternative to bread, so why not also in the form of a drink?
Sake brings to the table the possibility of rounding, cleaning and serving the ingredient of the moment, interacting very well even with salty foods. Not to forget that Japanese cuisine focuses often on savoury flavours, resulting from fermentations, marinations and refinements.
The salt amplifies the sake, enhancing its fruity aromas, thus allowing the drink to soften even important foods such as cheese or meat.
Foods rich in umami - the fifth taste discovered by the Japanese that recalls sensations of savoury flavour and fullness on the palate -, such as the Italian Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, find in sake a multiplication factor of these notes.
Sweet recipes harmonize well with sweet sake, while the acid notes of a dish bring out the sweetness of the drink.
But perhaps the most important characteristics of sake are the low acidity and the short finish: the first allows you to soften and clean, while the short finish translates into a factor of exaltation of the food, leaving a memory of the dish just tasted on the palate.
To pair sake properly you should follow just few important rules: proportionality of body between the drink and the food, and complementarity of acidity and salt. We suggest indeed to combine sweet and low acidity sake with sweet dishes, and fuller sake with notes of cereals with more important and savoury dishes.
To give some examples, there are many products close to us that go well with sake: fresh and delicate cheeses interact well with light and unfiltered sake, while more aged cheeses find the perfect match with full-bodied and aged sake.
Hams, cured meats, smoked meats but also meat cuts to be grilled, such as Fiorentina, find in the sake a friend capable of withstanding the succulence, smoothing the flavour and leaving the mouth clean but fragrant with the aromas of the meat.
Fish, including crustaceans, clams, oysters or lobsters, go well with refined and delicate sake, which give back a feeling of elegance, avoiding ungraceful or metallic sensations. Finally, the desserts, including ice cream, which together with the lactic notes and cereal flavours of sake guarantee a unique experience.
HOW TO SERVE IT?
Sake is table drink, it should be poured into the classic white wine glass or into the traditional ochoko glass when you want to serve it hot. The optimal serving temperature is between 5 and 8 °C (40-50 ° C when served hot), but it will also be necessary to take into account the type of food paired as well as the external weather conditions.
SAKE AND CHEESE PAIRINGS
Name: Tatenokawa x azumi kamiyama “leave no one behind kodakara apple”
Brewery: Tatenokawa prefecture: Yamagata
Style: Fruit Sake
Intensity and alcohol: ✺ 8% vol
Service: Ideal temperature: 8 - 10 °C
Features: Light, fresh with good acidity
Suggestions: Good as aperitif, straight, on the rocks or mixed to create a cocktail, perfect with desserts
Our pairings: Stravacco Morlacco Stravagante this apple-infused sake, with its lactic and fruity content, goes well with a cheese soft in texture and rich in complex aromas like this: a marriage of two “extravagances”
Name: Kurand matcheese
Brewery: Miyoshikiku prefecture: Tokushima
Intensity & alcohol: ✺✺ 15% vol
Service: Ideal temperature: 5 - 10 °C
Features: Mild, with a hight acidity
Suggestions: Designed for cheese pairings, perfect both with fresh and aged ones, it goes well also with desserts
Our pairings: Cacio di Venere, a sake developed in collaboration with a Japanese chef specializing in cheeses: sweetness and acidity work together to enhance sheep’s cheese and truffles
Name: Kura maibijin 2015 muroka genshu koshu nd matcheese
Brewery: Mikawa prefecture: Fukui
Style: Junmai Ginjo
Intensity & alcohol: ✺✺✺ 18% vol
Service: Ideal temperature: 5 - 10 °C or hot
Features: Aged, rich, with an intense note of umami
Suggestions: To taste straight, cold or hot; perfect with eel, seafood, dark chocolate
Our pairings: Gorgonzola Piccante Tosi, an unfiltered sake, undiluted and aged 5 years to manage the salt and the moulds of this blue cheese and envelop it with aromas of dried fruit, honey, icing sugar and oxidative notes
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