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Fall is here! As much as I love having crisp, fruity natsuzake (unpasteurized summer sakes), one of my favorite times of year to have sake is during the colder months when I crave rich, complex, and earthy sakes. That's when you can cozy up to a warm tokkuri full of extra-dry sake, or enjoy a full-bodied, savory junmai in a wine glass by the fire.
This month you'll find all that and more to accompany two recipes I'd love for you to make at home to celebrate the autumnal bounty. Please find the two fall-forward recipes on our blog, the Steamed Kabocha Krunch and Kinoko Parcel to pair with this month's sake, and the usual sake stats below. Happy cooking + drinking!
Co-Founder + Sake Director
Senkin SNOWMAN Nigori Junmai Daiginjo
Senkin Sake Brewery (Tochigi, Japan)
Seimaibuai: Yamada Nishiki 60%, SMV: -30, Acidity: 1.8
What strikes me most about this nigori is its light texture. At only 13% alcohol, this nigori is a perfect aperitif or accompaniment to a vegetable appetizer like Steamed Kabocha Krunch
. Toji Masato Usui explains the process in which they make SNOWMAN, "The moromi
(fermenting mash) is repeatedly filtered through a coarse colander to achieve a silky smoothness. All this filtering work is done by hand." Try chilled
in a flute to enjoy notes of pear and yogurt, accented by a crisp effervescence. Senkin prides itself on the fact that they grow their own rice on site, like "domaining" in wine. Speaking of wine, Senkin is in the process of building their own winery.
Yuki Otoko "Snow Yeti" Honjozo Sake
Aoki Shuzo (Niigata, Japan)
Seimaibuai: Gohyakumangoku 65%, SMV: +13, Acidity: 1.3
(extra dry) honjozo is perfect for warming to keep you cozy during upcoming cold nights. In addition to being dry, I love the caramel aroma enhanced when warmed
to 120°F and the refreshing aftertaste of cucumber. It pairs wonderfully with the Kinoko Parcel
, or a ramekin full of toasted nuts
. Side note: Yuki Otoko (snow yeti) is said to guide people through the mountains, so proceeds of this brew go to local search and rescue organizations.
Mantensei Kinoko Junmai Ginjo
Suwa Shuzo (Tottori, Japan)
Seimaibuai: Tamasakae 55%, SMV: +6, Acidity: 1.6
This sake is a reflection of the brewery's director Masahiko Touda, who dubs himself a fungi maniac. His goal was to brew a sake that would pair with mushrooms. Notes of dried apricot, orange rind, and sweet miso enhances the earthy, deep flavors in the Kinoko Parcel
. I enjoyed this sake at room temperature
in a wine glass to enjoy its fruitier aromas, and warm
in a guinomi to take in the more savory flavors. Touda-san hunts for mushrooms all year, exclaiming, “In Japan, mushrooms can be found throughout the year and are part of our nature and life. May the Fungi be with you!"
Tsuji Zenbei Junmai with Wine Yeast
Tsuji Zenbei Shoten (Tochigi, Japan)
Seimaibuai: Gohyakumangoku 65%, SMV: +2, Acidity: N/A
Toji Hirojuki Tsuji at Tsuji Zenbei uses Prime de Mousse, a champagne yeast to enhance acidity, to create this wine-like sake. Best chilled
in a wine glass, enjoy fresh aromas of pear and green grape alongside unexpected flavors like black tea, and celery. Notice how the lower ABV of 13% plays with its texture, reminiscent of a crisp white wine. Serve with an assortment of cheeses
or alongside a vegetable dish like Steamed Kabocha Krunch