SG
um_sakegumi_logoDecember is when the warmth of friends and family is there to balance the cold weather. The contrast of the cold weather outside and the toasty home-comings during the holidays is what we want to reflect in our sakes this month. Our theme for Sake Gumi this month is “Cold Weather, Warm Gatherings.”

For our “cold weather” bottles, we chose lighter, fruitier junmai ginjo sakes that taste great chilled: Yuki no Bosha “Cabin in the Snow” for Level 1 and Nechi Otokoyama “Man’s Mountain” for Level 2. Both of these sakes are made with longer-than-usual fermentation times in cold storage. The results for both are smooth and airy sakes.

We are really excited to introduce a cross-over offering in Level 1 and 2, for the first time since we launched Sake Gumi. Both of the “warm gatherings” sakes come from Shimanoka Shuzo in Gunma Prefecture (known for its hot springs and skiing). Level 1 members will enjoy the honjozo and Level 2 members will get the cozy yamahai junmai. This brewery ages its sakes for up to 3 years using local well-water, high in minerals, which gives all of their sakes an earthy, nutty taste. They are known to make very small batches and we are eager to share it with everyone in SG. Try these sakes slightly warm to enhance their multi-faceted flavors.

Here are our picks for December!

LEVEL 1: Introductory Membership (Two 300ml bottles)

yukinobosha

Yuki no Bosha “Cabin in the Snow” Junmai Ginjo
Saiya Brewery (Akita, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 55%
SMV: +1.5

This fruity junmai ginjo comes from one of the coldest prefectures in Japan, Akita. We like the soft peach and strawberry flavors accented with a little bit of spice and umami at the end. Try this silky, clean sake chilled with vinegar-dressed salads, grilled mackerels or sardines. Get ready to be transported to a cozy Japanese cabin in the snow!

izumi_honjozo

Gunma Izumi Honjozo
Shimanoka Shuzo (Gunma, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60%
SMV: +3
In contrast to the sake above, we chose Gunma Izumi’s honjozo which is rich, earthy and full of minerals. Despite the wafting of robust, mushroom aromas, this is an easy to drink sake that will be gone before you realize - especially with foods like tomato-based pasta and pizza or winter foods like oden and hot pot. We recommend that you try this honjozo at room temperature, then warmed and decide on your preference.
Shimanoka Shuzo is known for aging its sake for up to 3 years (in contrast to the usual 6 months) yielding depth in taste and color.

LEVEL 2: Premium Membership (Two 720ml bottles)

nechi
Nechi Otokoyama Junmai Ginjo
Watanabe Shuzoten (Niigata, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60%
SMV: +12

Otokoyama (Man’s Mountain) is a style of sake that several brewers in Japan make that is characterized by its dry finish. This Otokoyama junmai ginjo is a medium bodied, fragrant sake with hints of umami and acidity, and is generally light and refreshing. Watanabe Shuzoten prides itself on using rice they grow on their land and brew on site, rather than shuttling rice from another region. Enjoy this sake chilled. Try this bottle with fries, olives or potato skins!

izumi_yamahai

Gunma Izumi Yamahai Junmai
Shimanoka Shuzo (Gunma, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60%
SMV: +3.5

This is the type of sake that you want to hoard all to yourself on the couch, away from all the holiday chaos. It has a distinct caramel aroma with a savory, acidic mouthfeel and a dry finish. The wildness of the sake come from the yamahai method, using only the natural yeast that has built up in the brewery over many generations. With the abundance of chestnuts, raisins, brown sugar and minerals, anything roasted, toasted or sauteed will come to life with this sake. I loved sipping this at room temperature alongside my tuna can-sunflower seed-avocado-and-baby greens-salad.