you still think that Sake is rice wine, then you
don't know Jack! Rice wine, per say, really doesn't exist.
You see, normal wine is made by the fermentation of grapes
or other naturally sweet fruit. Beer is brewed employing a
mashing process. Rice alcohol is produced through a method
closer to beer making, called an amylolytic process. Rice
doesn't have much sugar and you need sugar to produce alcohol.
However, rice has a lot of starches, and they are converted
through the amylolytic process into sugar which can then be
brewed to produce the alcohol. So you see "Rice Wine"
is more closely related to beer than wine and should more
correctly be called rice beer.
that you know Jack, let me introduce you to Hiro. Over 200
years ago Hiroemon Takeda, (Samurai and Sake connoisseur)
and the namesake of Hiro Sake, worked with the most skilled
Toji (Master Brewer) to produce a sake recipe that would be
received as a work of art and preserve his legacy for all
time. 200 years later, the Taiyo Sake Brewery of Nigata Japan
has recreated that recipe using specially steamed and polished
Koji rice, ground water from melted mountain snow, and last
but not least Sake yeast.
that being said, they then fine tune their sake to produce
two versions: the blue is Junmai Ginjo Sake that is recommended
for drinking chilled or over ice, and the red version, Junmai
Sake is served warm. It all sounds pretty good, but after
all, the proof is in the tasting, so let's get to it.
bottles speak to the simplicity and elegance of Japanese design
and are simple and straightforward with the glass being slightly
frosted and the "i" in Hiro being dotted by either
a blue or red dot. The red, meant to be consumed warm, has
an earthy, grassy nose that is accompanied by pear and vanilla
but the overall essence is that of the rice. Just like Tequila
presents the agave flavor and Scotch the barley, this sake
has that unmistakable rice aroma. On the palate, the taste
is light, smooth and earthy, nicely balanced between a bit
of sweet with a touch of tang, followed by the fruitiness
of banana, but overall undeniably sake. The finish is medium
in length, well rounded and smooth, leaving that wonderfully
earthy flavor behind for you to savor.
blue Hiro has a stronger nose featuring more of those rice
and earth aromas followed by a touch of maple syrup and the
barest hint of pear. The palate presents a bit more dry and
tart than the red and is not quite as fruity but leans more
toward yeasty bread. The finish is, of course, smooth and
medium in length leaving an earthy, yeasty flavor. To be perfectly
honest, I tried the blue warm first just to be hard headed
and even handed when initially comparing the two and now I
will try it the way it is meant to be served, chilled. The
nose is still quite earthy but becomes much brighter and fruitier
while still retaining the earthiness. On the palate, the earthy
rice flavor becomes a bit more subtle and sweeter making it
that much more interesting.
finish shortens up a bit and is far more subtle but still
earthy and sweet without the tart overtones. I do believe
they are quite right that this blue should be served chilled
but it ain't bad warm either.
They are both very enjoyable sakes whether you drink them
warm or at room temperature or chilled. Either way, they will
go great with sushi, sashimi, and tempura or even fried chicken
and mashed potatoes.
sake is available in 750 ML bottles for around $29.99 and
Hiro Junmai Ginjo Blue comes
in around $39.99 per 750 ML bottle and both are 15% ABV.
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