The Asahi Newspaper digital site reports on a sake made to go with Italian food, and specifically to stand up to the acidity in olive oil.
The Watanabe brewery in Hida, Gifu Prefecture have been developing just such a sake and have now launched it. Sake-loving students from Sophia University were involved in tasting prototypes and naming the new product.
The Watanabe brewery, known for their Hōrai label, produce the highest volume of sake in the prefecture (on an annual basis). They are also actively attempting to expand into overseas markets, such as the USA, and went for Italian food because of the large number of Italian restaurants in nearby areas such as Takayama City that use local Hida beef, pork and vegetables.
Brewery owner Hisanori Watanabe commented that there are nearly 20 Italian restaurants in the surrounding area, and foreign travellers eat there, but they don't stock sake even though it's not a bad match for Italian food.
The brewery started creating a commercial product in earnest from February 2018, and added the white kōji used for making shōchū to the yellow kōji used in sake. Tōji Hiroji Kitaba oversaw the product development, and noted that kōji generates citric acid, which is very effective against unwanted bacterial invaders, which they use to produce a fresh acidity that can compete with olive oil.
The increased amount of kōji also produces a sake with a good balance between umami and acidity. Watanabe asks for it to be thought of as like a white wine.
The Sophia University students came up with the name Sui Sui Sui (an onomatopoeic term indicating smoothness and speed), and the label incorporates the Italian flag and the red disk of the Japanese flag.
Production for the first year is 800 L, sold in 720 ml bottles priced at JPY 1,500 (excluding tax).
- Original article (Japanese, Asahi Shinbun Digital, 14 June 2018)