While I’ve written about sake before, I’ll readily admit that my expertise in this subject is far less than my understanding of wine, beer, and spirits. As Americans, we just aren’t exposed to sake that often, and when we are, it’s oftentimes only cheap, hot sake sold in bulk at sushi bars.
Artisan sake can be a revelation, but many American palates have a hard time appreciating it. Japanese consumers like light, subtle flavors in their sakes and quick, ethereal finishes, while Americans prefer big, bold flavors, preferring a long finish to our wines and spirits.
While immersing oneself into tasting and studying sake is definitely one way to explore and master this rice-fermented beverage, sometimes you just want to be able to order a good sake when you go out, one that will be enjoyable and will impress your friends.
A recent visit to Momokawa’s sake kura in Forest Grove, Oregon, helped me understand sake better and left me quite enamored with their goods. Their products are quite excellent across the board, and they’re designed for the American palate. Don’t worry: these are still authentic sakes, which have won multiple awards, but the distillery has dialed up the flavors for American taste buds. Another unique aspect of Momokawa junmai ginjo genshu is that it’s the first sake to be certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture.
While they make a range of sakes, including flavors like plum and lemongrass, my personal favorite was their organic junmai ginjo sake. A perfect sake to be sipped cold on a warm evening, Momokawa junmai ginjo is a great introduction to the world of Japanese liquor. At approximately $13 a bottle, it’s also not going to break the bank. As for the taste, it has nice floral and exotic fruit notes, as well a medium-bodied mouthfeel. Try pairing this with sushi or other seafood dishes, like salmon, shellfish, or cold Dungeness crab, to see just how versatile this sake can be.
Even I struggle when choosing a sake. I don’t know half of the sake producers in Japan and until now, I’ve been choosing blindly with more focus on price and style than anything else. Although I’ll continue to explore Japanese and American sakes, the next time I need to order a bottle of sake at dinner, I’m simply going to look for Momokawa junmai ginjo. As long as that is on the menu, I can’t miss, and my guests will be happy. Ultimately, isn’t that what it is about?
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product from Momokawa for review. No other compensation from Momokawa was received.