The Mainichi Newspaper site has an article with reasons why you should drink sake from a wine glass.
Boldly proclaiming that the days when it was seen as an “old man’s drink” are long gone, the article points out that sake is attracting more and more attention around the world, including securing its place on the tables of Michelin star restaurants.
The number of young, innovative brewers is growing, and the increased delicacy of modern day sake mean that the best thing to drink them from is a wine glass. And it’s not just a matter of looking stylish as you drink, as the reporter discovered in Rekura in Akasaka, Tokyo.
Owner Jinji Watanabe takes the producing brewery and the label into account, but also casts a scientific eye on the ingredients and components. His reasons for choosing wine glasses over the traditional ochoko or cup is because the wine glass allows the complex aroma of sake to unfold fully. It’s all about the aroma. Although many bars and restaurants now serve sake in wine glasses, Watanabe was one of the first.
He felt that the mokkiri method of pouring (where a glass or cup is put into a masu and the sake overflows into the masu) doesn’t allow the drinker to enjoy the aroma at all, which prompted him to switch to wine glasses. The article notes that he previously worked at a bar specialising in malt whisk(e)y, which introduced him to the non-Japanese approach of concentrating on aroma.
He uses specialist glasses designed for sake from Austrian manufacturer Riedel, both with and without stems. Why both? Because of temperature.
Watanabe points out that he has two fridges, one set to 0°C and one to 5-8°C, and he stores different sake in each. He uses stemmed glasses for the sake kept in the lower temperature fridge, as their floral aroma and delicate flavour makes them more suitable for serving cool. The stem on the glass keeps the drinker’s hand away from the sake and prevents it from being warmed up by their body heat.
The stemless glasses are for the sake in the warmer fridge, more substantial, umami-laden styles better served at a slightly higher temperature. The glass is held in the hand, transferring body heat to the sake inside and opening up the aroma and flavour.
The Riedel daiginjō glass is similar to their Riesling glass, made for a grape variety that produces fruity wine with crisp acidity – a profile similar to that of some sake. The stemless glass is more suited to kimoto or yamahai sake.
Watanabe also serves sparkling sake in champagne glasses, and every sake on the menu can be ordered warmed – anything and everything that could bring out its full potential.
A seasonal multi-course omakase menu at Rekura costs JPY 3,800 (JPY 4,500 with rice).
- Original article (Japanese, Mainichi Newspaper, 14 September 2018)