Father's Day is June 16

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Welcome to the 9th annual celebration of Sakqueso! Through the years, we’ve commemorated Sakqueso with coursed dinners, pairing events at cocktail bars, and even on Zoom. Thankfully, we are way past the Zoom days, and we are bringing Sakqueso back in two sessions at our cozy bar on the last Saturday of the month. We’ll be joined by Kevin Corcoran, our favorite Certified Cheese Specialist, who will guide us through the tastings! Kevin, Kayoko, and I have been planning the pairings down since January and can’t wait to introduce them to ya’ll.

Sake and cheese work so well together mainly because they share a common ingredient during fermentation: lactic acid. In addition to creating an environment where unwanted microorganisms cease multiplying, lactic acid in conjunction with koji results in flavors high in umami. And having sake and cheese, which are both high in umami, creates an umami explosion – often leading one to discover a third flavor that could only be unlocked when having them together. 

We are introducing a kimoto and yamahai at each level, respectively. We are shaking things up a bit in Level 1 by offering a habanero-infused sake from local sake brewer Sequoia Sake. This pairing was a truly fun one to play around with! We are rewarding Level 2 members with an extra special Junmai Daiginjo from famed brewer Nabeshima, who’s junmai we can’t keep in stock on our shelves. Almost the polar opposite cheese pairing to the habanero sake, the Nabeshima allowed us to explore a cheese pairing that is decadent and regal.

Due to high demand, we are offering two time slots for Sakqueso this year. There will be two sessions on Saturday June 29, at 1pm and 4pm. Reserve your tickets early, as this event will sell out! Members will get a secret code via email with special Gumi pricing. If you can’t find it, call us at 510-250-9559 or email us at sake@umamimart.com.

Happy 9th Sakqueso,

Yoko (Co-Founder, Umami Mart)

Otokoyama Kimoto Tokubetsu Junmai
Otokoyama Brewery (Hokkaido, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60% Miyama Nishiki, SMV: +1,  Acidity: 1.8

This golden-hued sake from Hokkaido provides generous aromas of grilled pineapple, cherry liqueur, and white mushrooms. My mouth is salivating already. At room temperature, there’s a tart dryness that Otokoyama is famous for, but also broad umami, making it a great candidate for a cheese pairing. Our cheese pick was mimolette. The pairing gave us the sensation of Doritos as it brought out the maltiness of the cheese.

Sequoia Habanero-Infused Sake
Sequoia Sake Brewery (San Francisco, CA)
Seimaibuai: 60% Cal Rose M205, SMV: N/A,  Acidity: N/A

Sequoia’s flagship junmai sake is infused with California-grown fresh habaneros for 24 hours. The quick infusion leads to some unexpected fruity and floral aromatics like peach, lilac, and apricot. This sake is not over-the-top spicy (far from the experience I had a few years ago, when I accidentally ingested a whole hab), instead providing a spark of signature habanero heat at the end. We loved this sake chilled with smoked goat cheese as it reactivated the spice in your throat./

Nabeshima Aiyama Junmai Daiginjo
Fukuchiyo Shuzo (Saga, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 40% Aiyama, SMV: -3,  Acidity: 1.2

While this sake exhibits quintessential daiginjo aromas of melon and strawberries, it makes it known it’s a Nabeshima with additional aromas of white grape and soda water. Let the spirit-like velvety weight of this daiginjo sink in, then notice a pleasant bitterness and acidity in the finish. The slam dunk match for this sake was the Andante Melange. The cheese made the chilled sake taste cleaner, and highlighted its minerality. This pairing culminates into a crescendo of flavors, which then rides together for a while.

Dan Yamahai Junmai Ginjo
Sasaichi Shuzo (Yamanashi, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 55% Omachi, SMV: -1,  Acidity: 1.7

This creamy brew lends aromas of milk and Cream of Mushroom soup. At room temperature, flavors including molasses and a touch of bitterness unravels. We ruled out many cheeses including Comte, which was overpowering, and a low-moisture buffalo mozz which brought out a chemically off-taste. The runners up are 1) Carr Valley Glacier Point Blue, which enhanced a new green apple-like flavor from the sake that didn’t exist on its own and 2) Creme Fraiche topped with tonburi or caviar, which brought out a seaweed like umami in the sake. We’ll decide which one is the winner with Sakqueso attendees on June 29!