Sake tasting at Ainslie

Ainslie Cellars is holding a sake tasting on Thursday, February 14. They’re opening four sakes imported by the Deja Vu Sake Co.

Premium sake is one of those drinks you find increasingly on wine lists and in fancy bars, but it is an obscure drink that can be difficult to get your head around. From what we can gather, you are looking for the words “junmai”, which designates premium sakes with no added alcohol, and “ginjo” or “daiginjo”, which indicate how much of the rice grain has been polished away (the more grain is polished off, the better, it seems – ginjo indicates at least 40 per cent of the grain is polished away and daiginjo sakes, 50 per cent of the grain was polished away).

Ainslie Cellars is opening a junmai ginjo sake from the north of Japan, called Amanoto. It’s unfiltered and uses rice grown near the brewery. Purity, with yeast complexity on the nose, elegant with a powerful palate, says the tasting notes (15.5 per cent alcohol, $27).

Another junmai sake open for tasting, Tengumai Yamahai Jikomi Junmai, comes from central Japan and has been tank matured for a year. Spices, turmeric and even aged cheese, say the tasting notes (15.9 per cent, $20).

Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo is from a sake company established in the mid 16th century, now apparently in its 19th generation of owners. Lean, with a hint of bitterness and some licorice flavours (15 per cent, $20).

The first two sakes are supposed to be served chilled or at room temperature. The third even on ice. The fourth sake at the tasting you can have chilled, or at room temperature or warm. It’s Bessen Houraisen, a “clean pure style” with good structure ($19).

This explanation might well have left you no further enlightened, so perhaps head along there and taste for yourself, between 5.30pm and 7.30pm at the Ainslie shops.