March 15, 2017
March sakes ship today for Sake Gumi, our monthly sake subscription club. If you like what’s on deck here, you should join!
What is life without family? Less joy, bonding, and headaches! Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a part of our lives – they keep us grounded and remind us of why we are the way we are. This month at Umami Mart, we are celebrating “family.” I consider myself very lucky to have two families: the family I was born into and my Umami Mart family. My Umami Mart family consists of our tight-knit team and also includes you, Sake Gumi members! It’s always a pleasure to get caught up in a conversation on life, politics, and sake at the shop and through emails. Just like the family I grew up with, there is never a dull moment with you all at Umami Mart.
Sake is an inherently social drink. It’s meant to be shared amongst family and friends – you are to pour for others and historically, sake only came in “family-size” 1.8L bottles. Nowadays, they come in smaller bottles for easy storage and consumption for nuclear families. But the tradition of pouring in small cups for others still remains. Even though we are in 21st century America, I still like to practice the custom of pouring for my family and friends. And I expect them to return the gesture! In an age where independence and competition reign, it’s reassuring to know that someone has your back (when drinking sake, at least).
When choosing the bottles for this month, I selected sakes that would pair well with communal meals. I also considered the fact that individuals within families all have different tastes. Therefore, the sakes this month are not mono thematic. Past months have highlighted sakes that oscillated from extra dry to highly acidic, but this month the sakes are meant to please everyone from your weed-smoking brother to your steak-loving aunt.
Kayoko and I will be going to Kyushu and Tokyo this month. Be sure to track our adventures exploring shochu distilleries, glass factories, and sushi by following us on Instagram @umamimart.
LEVEL 1: Introductory Membership (Two 300ml bottles)
This crisp, dry junmai ginjo is peppery like a glass of Perrier. Kickstart your next family meal with this invigorating sake, as everyone takes a seat around the table. Try pairing this light sake, which has hints of pine and thyme, with leafy green salads or roasted chicken. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.
The Minakata family owns Sekai Itto Brewery and deemed this sake good enough to don the family name. With a balance of caramel sweetness, acidity, and the fruitiness of an apple this junmai ginjo has a long finish and is very food friendly. I shared this bottle with my family over crab hot pot. Although I had it chilled that night, the beauty of this structured junmai ginjo is that it can be enjoyed chilled, or at room temperature.
LEVEL 2: Premium Membership (Two 720ml bottles)
Similar in profile to the Kamotsuru in Level 1, this junmai is crisp, clean, and refreshing. But the long finish and mango aroma give it another dimension, perhaps because it is a muroka (not charcoal filtered) sake. Sakes that are not charcoal filtered often times have a tint of color and have a more pronounced aroma than their charcoal filtered counterparts. Pour this sake chilled at the start of the evening and serve with hummus or a leafy green salad.
Musashino Shuzo Brewery has been owned by the Kobayashi family for over four generations since its inception in 1916. The current owner is Hajime Kobayashi and his son Ataru exports their sake and has paid Umami Mart many visits. From production to delivery, the Kobayashis run a true family-owned business. Full of umami, this daiginjo is a great candidate to bring over for a celebration accompanied by a rich meal. What I like about Ten To Chi is that it’s not over-the-top fruity, but has hints of nuts, caramel, and butterscotch. I recommend this sake chilled with shabu shabu and ponzu sauce. I also recommend it with a lightly seared steak.