Sparkling Sake スパークリング清酒

japanese cake

We have tried a few sparkling sakes in the past. We were not particularly fond of these sparkling sakes. Since we have not tried more recent versions of sparkling sake and saw one in the nearby liquor store, I decided to try it.

This is called “Zipang” from Gekkeikan 月桂冠 (imported from Japan). My understanding is that, “Zipang” is one of the oldest names referring to Japan which was supposedly mentioned by Marco Polo as a country of pearls and gold. This particular sake came in a 250ml bottle. The alcohol content is low at 7%. According to the website of “Gekkeikan sake” 月桂冠酒 (In Japanese), the carbonation is from the secondary fermentation in a tank in low temperature (with sugar, I assume like the beer/ale I used to make) rather than injected carbon dioxide.  The carbonation pressure is between beer and champagne using the innovative technique of filtering out spent yeast without losing the carbonation. It appears to be especially aimed at the American market and started exporting to US in 2005.

When poured, it is clear with a rather gentle effervescence. No particular aroma can be detected. The taste is very subtle, clean with very slight sweetness but not much else. I am sure, as their web site states, this will be very acceptable to the Western palate and, if you were not told this is sparkling sake, you certainly could not tell this is sake. It almost tastes like Sprite without the citrus flavor and less sweetness. It is food neutral as are other sparkling wines and is refreshing especially in warm weather but we were not sure this is anything we would like to try again. It should have some more taste/favor to distinguish this as a type of sake. I have to admit, though, this is much better than sparkling turbid sake we tried many years ago in a Japanese restaurant in Napa.

We had this sparkling sake with cold simmered vegetables (this time instead of daikon 大根, I used nagaimo 長芋) in addition to carrot and blanched broccolini (left).  I also served Japanese cucumber sunomono with semi-dried scallop 胡瓜と貝柱の酢の物, daikon namasu 大根ナマス garnished with salmon roe and few slices of octopus leg. This time, I used sweet vinegar I made few days ago as a dressing.

Like sake, this sparkling wine did not complete with the vinegar in these dishes. However, we would rather have regular sparkling wine and/or champagne.

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