Discovering Shochu: Episode 2 – History of Shochu Pt. 2

Reasonating History and Geography of Its Heartland   Areas covering Kyushu and Okinawa are relatively small by comparison to Japan’s total land mass, however, they house more than half of the 470 total breweries producing Shochu in Japan.  What makes it so surprising is the myriad of interesting honkaku shochu products which have developed as […]

Discovering Shochu: Episode 1 – History of Shochu Pt. 1

Origin of the Distillation Technology   Research shows that distillation machines existed in Mesopotamia near present day Iraq, around 3000 BC. Westward in Europe, distillation machines developed alchemy, and eastward, in India, provided the modern technique to produce medicines and perfumes. Much later around the 13th century during the Yuan Dynasty in China, distillation machines […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 11 – Minerality

According to Wikipedia, minerality is “a sense of mineral-ness in the wine. It’s not an everyday word, but it’s one we use to describe wine. For sake brewing, the quality of water used is as important as the quality of sakamai, or sake rice. Each brewery opts for quality water sources, to reflect the water’s […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 10 – Sakamai (Sake Rice)

Have you wondered why sake requires a certain type of rice, namely sake rice as opposed to rice which is used for consumption? Let’s take a close look at sake rice, or sakamai in Japanese. So, why do brewers use sake rice, a particularly expensive and difficult to strain of rice to grow? It’s because […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 9 – Shochu

How to enjoy hot sake was the topic I covered in the last episode/article, but did you know that in some parts of Europe “hot wine” is being consumed during the cold Winter season? It’s called “Vin Chaud” in France, and “Gluhwein” in Germany. Wine is heated with spices like cinnamon and clove and with […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 8 – How to Enjoy Hot Sake

Years end in 2010 in Los Angeles was par­ticularly odd as rain continued for days, along with record low temperatures. It was dur­ing those times that I’d crave warm foods and drinks. As the winter’s cold penetrated down to my bones, I too headed to an iza­kaya pub to seek comfort with a drink of […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 7 – Pairing Wine with Japanese Foods

I attended the 14th Annual World of Flavors Conference at the renowned Culinary Institute of America, a program designed for the advancement of professional chefs in their trade and culinary art. This year featured “Japan: Flavors of Culture”, bringing culinary geniuses from Japan who presented their life work to America’s leading chefs. I’d like to […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 6 – Comparing the Acidity in Sake & Wine

Continuing with my Sake and Wine comparison, let’s focus on 1.) types of acids, and 2.) alcohol levels. These components vary greatly, and understanding this will help to explain food pairing basics and to better select complimentary seasonings and sauces. Let’s first take a look at acids – the types of acids, and their concentration […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 5 – Embracing New Flavors

Last time, I used my visit to Florida as an example to talk about the regional differences in terms of local cuisine and preference of alcoholic beverages. This time, I will talk about the food preferences associated with changes in living environment, using my stay in Europe as an example. Whilst in Europe, I ate many meat-based […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 4 – Seasonal Jizake

I was recently in Miami. Other than being a bit more humid, my impression of Florida was that it was much like Southern California. And though I was aware of the unique food cultures there, the area’s preference for alcoholic beverages was beyond what I’d imagined. Miami is our nation’s third largest market for Japanese […]