- On June 26, 2018
Sake is often called “rice wine”, but in truth has much more in common with beer than any other drink. Like beer, sake is made by fermenting a mixture of grain and water. Barley for beer brewing is malted, which helps convert the natural starches into more fermentable sugars. In an analogous process, a special strain of mold is used to process rice, making it fermentable by yeasts. The biggest difference between wine and sake is the use of water. In quality wine, water is almost never added, but in quality sake it is one of the most important ingredients. Sake breweries were traditionally founded on sites with wells known for high quality water, and some newer breweries even pipe in their water from other areas.
Kanbara brewery is located in the northern part of the main island of Japan, due north of Tokyo. The mountains in Niigata prefecture receive heavy snowfall throughout the winter, and that snow later melts into pure cold streams flowing downwards. Throughout Japan, Niigata is known for the quality of the sake there. The sake “Bride of the Fox” is named after a famous festival in the area. Kanbara does not charcoal filter their sake, which gives them a robust character. This sake in particular is bold but still nuanced with nutty and fruit notes dominating. It is an amazing pairing for savory grilled foods- a summertime favorite in Japan. I think it particularly shines when paired with grilled or roasted duck.