Written by Chris Hughes
Venue: Kurand Sake Market Asakusa Branch
Duration: 4 hours
Theme: Aromas of Sake
Photography by Hagiwara Yoshiteru
On Sunday 3rd April, people from all nationalities came together for another bout of sake imbibing and international exchange at our Asakusa branch.
For those who just want to meet new people while sipping sake, this is the event for you. If hardcore study is your bag, head on over to the PRO version.
You may have heard wine drinkers use the term “it is all in the nose”. The nose is the collective term given to all the aromas that eminate from the glass. In wine tasting, this nose is a major determinte of the perceived flavour in the mouth. Sake is no exception. But why is an understanding of the aromas of sake so important? Where do the aromas of sake come from? In the LITE version we offered a glimpse at the answer to this question in the form of a short compact lecture and free tasting.
Picking your Glass
Once through reception, each participant was invited to choose a drinking vessel from a selection of 3-4 different types: plastic masu (square box), ochoko, ginjo glass (2 types) and one type of ceramic guinomi.
The flavour of sake changes dramatically depending on the type of vessel that you drink it out of. This is not a feature unique to sake. Have you ever wondered why the sides / rim of some wine glasses bend inwards slightly? Well the glasses are designed this way to better allow you to appreciate the aromas. Vessels that are narrower and shaped in this way trap the aromas as opposed to allowing them to escape.
For aromatic styles like ginjo etc, a trumpet shaped glass where the sides curve outwards, like the one in the photo below is perfect; this way you can enjoy the aroma before it disappears. A glass with a deep bottom is even better.
● Sake in a nutshell
● The ingredients: rice, koji, water and yeast ( the roles they play)
● The ingredients: their role in creating aroma.
● Sake Yeast: types of sake yeast – Kyokai (society) Yeasts and their characteristics
● Types of aromas in sake
● A breakdown of where each type of aroma comes from
● A plotting of the aroma types on a tasting map
International Exchange with a Sake in Hand
Participants were then free to work their way through the sakes in the fridge, comparing as many as they like, while making new international friends in the process.
For those who wanted to discover more about the different aromas of sake, I had prepared a special flight of sakes with different aromas to study.
Eyes Down! It’s Bingo Time !
What internatonal exchange event would be complete without a round or two of bingo?
But not just any Bingo! Oh noooo, sake bingo — with an added twist or two: sake bingo!
How to play SET BINGO
This version of bingo comes with an extra special rule.
Normally bingo is played with 24 numbers.
Well, this version of bingo is no different. However, participants are given the opportunity to collect an additional two numbers with which to play with. They do so, by going around the room asking other people for their sake recommendations. You may be thinking: how on earth does getting a sake recommendation from someone give you extra numbers to play bingo. Well in actual fact each of the sakes in our fridge is allocated a number. The number is display on a tag around the bottle neck.
Each participant notes down the number of the sake in the fridge they have been recommended followed by the name of the person who recommended it to them. A maxium of two recommendations can be collected. The two numbers collected become jokers or spares which can be used in the bingo game to increase a person’s chances of winning.
Look at the examples below. In the example A, the person is waiting for two numbers, ‘4’ and ’11’ to complete the first vertical line. Those numbers don’t get called. However, the two spares, ‘2’ and ’44’ do. The person can now claim a line using the spares as substitutes for the numbers they are waiting for.
In example 2, the person needs just one number to complete a line. That doesn’t get called. However, one of their spares does. They can use the spare that got called to claim a line.
In each of these two examples bingo has been achieved.
It might take a while sometimes to realise that you have won, but that’s part of the fun.
The best part about this extra rule is yet to come….
In the event that a spare helps you to win, the person who recommended you that number sake wins a prize also.
How to Ask For a Recommendation in Japanese
Part of the reason for adding this extra rule is to offer more opportunities for participants to interact and break the ice. It also makes a great excuse to practice your Japanese. We provided a little script that explains how to ask for a recommendation in Japanese to help you along the way.
Osusume wo onegai shimasu
(oh-sue-sue-may owe o-nay-guy she-mass)
How to Give a recommendation in Japanese
___?____ wo susume shimasu.
For the lucky winners there were prizes.
Pretending to be a Brewer!
Ever wanted to pretend to work in a brewery? I promise you it is much harder work in reality. Still getting a feel for the tools of the trade makes you appreciate the end product even more. The tools you see in the photograph have all been very kindly donated by our participating breweries.
Our participants certainly look the part! A great photo opportunity wouldn’t you agree?
If this event report has tickled your taste buds, a rerun of our first ever SET and the PRO version of SET 7 is just a couple of weeks away. And beyond that there will be a new theme in May.
I look forward to seeing you all there!!