Sommelier Talk: Episode 19 – Explicit Flavor Descriptions

The previous episode showed exemplary words to describe Sake aroma and texture.  Let’s now move onto flavor description terminologies: sweet taste, acidity, bitter taste, and Umami.   Keeping in mind that Sake temperature can greatly influence the sensitivity of one’s palate, sake served at two varying temperatures will be quite different with a sake at […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 18 – 25 Years SINCE “Ginjo Gannen”

A while ago at a second-hand bookstore, I purchased a book published by Yomiuri Shinbum some 25 years ago.  Reading this book, “100 Popular Selections of Japanese Sake Brewery and Toji Masters” I encountered a phrase “Ginjo Gannen”.  What exactly is “Ginjo Gannen?” I wondered. “Gannen” literally means “the first, birth year”.  In this case, […]


Lately, subtle but noticeable changes are occurring amongst wine drinkers.  Until recently, the general preferences have been towards “fruit forward” wines or those with strong and fruity aromas, but today, they’re leaning towards more delicate wines with balanced qualities.  Seemingly, fruit forward wines these days are becoming passé, viewed as overly vulgar due to the […]

Sommelier Talk – Episode 16 – Reviewing Sake Like a Pro Pt. II

In this episode, I’d like to focus on how to analyze and evaluate Sake characteristics by “Sight”, “Smell” and “Taste”.  By consciously practicing the following three areas of evaluation, anyone can develop sound Sake tasting skill.   1.) By Sight: Examine the transparency, color and viscosity of Sake.  It’s easy to see (a) the cloudiness […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 15 – Reviewing Sake Like a Pro Pt. I

I’m sure that many Japanese restaurant owners, chefs, and mangers have participated in Sake tastings to consider them for sake menu listing.  I’d like to offer some key points when conducting such samplings, so as to help improve tasting skills like a pro, and in turn, to strengthen the Sake menu.   There are three […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 14 – Improving Sake Menu Selection

In the last few of years, I’ve visited many major cities across the US to promote sake, and during the course of these visits, I’ve learned many things simply from studying the sake menus at restaurants.  While these points may be nothing new, and plain common sense, I share them in hopes of raising enjoyment […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 13 – The Psyche When Drinking Sake

What goes through a person’s mind when they sit down with a glass of sake? Could it be on the flavor pairing and compatibility with the food just ordered? Is the sake to be a festive drink to share with family and friends, or perhaps for the purposes of simply relaxing the mind while appreciating […]

Sommelier Talk: Episode 12 – Back to the Roots

During the last 60 years, from the Showa to the Heisei eras, ingenuity and technology advancements of unprecedented speed have improved machineries used in sake related research, development and production.  For instance, sake brewing steps spanning from rice polishing to koji and yeast production, have all improved greatly to ensure a top quality output.  Through […]

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 […]