Demystifying Saké

Demystifying Saké at Piedmont Grocery StoreNot unlike with wine, there is a whole world of saké, and it can be daunting for the uninitiated. At Piedmont Grocery we are demystifying saké. We stock a good selection, and encourage you to explore its flavors.

Saké, a traditional Japanese rice wine, has four basic ingredients: polished rice, water, koji, and yeast. Koji is the magical mold that converts the starch in the rice into sugars. The saké-making process involves brewing, in two steps, where the starches in the rice are converted to alcohol. Sake is not carbonated, like beer, and is not at all distilled like spirits. Its taste profile is closer to wine, but also uniquely different.

What we think of as saké is the national beverage of Japan, and is often served with a special ceremony. However in Japanese, the term saké refers to any alcoholic beverage, and the drink we call saké in English is called nihonshu in Japanese.

Sake generally has an alcohol content of 12% to 18%, greater than both beer and wine.

Most saké is pasteurized for a longer shelf life. And some is unfiltered, or partially filtered, with a milky appearance and a bottle that should be shaken.

When you are purchasing saké, price does make a difference. In general, the more expensive the bottle, the better it will taste. Inexpensive saké is often made with unpolished rice, which alters the flavor unfavorably. It is then diluted and has distilled alcohol added to improve the flavor.

In Japan, saké is served either at room temperature, chilled, or warmed (not hot), depending upon the season, the quality of the beverage, and the preference of the drinker. It is usually served in small, ceramic cups, and can also be served in a masu, or small, wooden box.

There are a few cocktails made with saké as a pivotal ingredient. It can also be delicious in a marinade on meat or fish.

If you wish to explore the details and taste profiles of different types of saké, you can read all about it at Saké World.

Here are some of the types of saké, and specific bottles that we currently have in stock at the store:

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The French Blonde

The French Blonde CocktailThe French Blonde Cocktail is made with Lillet, an aperitif blend of Bordeaux wines and citrus liqueur. The St. George Botanivore Gin provides herbal undertones, and the elderflower liqueur wonderful, floral notes. The grapefruit adds a sweet-tart balance.

A classic cocktail with a retro name—it reminds us of spring in Paris.

The French Blonde
Yields one cocktail

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The Emerald Cocktail

The Emerald CocktailThe Emerald cocktail is a great way to escape green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. And we are celebrating all weekend!

Some quick research will show that there are not that many mixed drinks using Irish whiskey. Turns out that (like Scotch) Irish Whiskey just doesn’t go well with other ingredients. However, this version of The Emerald is quite enjoyable. It’s smooth, mellow, and improves with the quality of the whiskey.

The Emerald
Yields one drink
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Dill Pickle Bloody Mary

Dill Pickle Bloody MaryThere are lots of recipes out there for adding pickle juice to your Bloody Mary, but this one goes a step further by making your own infused vodka. No Bloody Mary mix here, we are using quality ingredients as a foundation for a delicious and flavor-packed drink.

Infused vodkas are delicious and really easy to make. This one requires that you start about a week in advance, but is so worth it.

Adjust the Tabasco to your liking, and you can get creative with the garnish.

Dill Pickle Bloody Mary
Yields one drink
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The Berry Kiss

The Berry Kiss Cocktail This fruity cocktail, The Berry Kiss,  is a raspberry spin on a cosmopolitan. And, it’s perfectly pink for Valentine’s Day! Instructions for making your own Raspberry Simple Syrup are included.

The Berry Kiss

Ingredients
2 ounces Hangar 1 Buddha’s Hand or Mandarine vodka
1/2 ounce Chambord Liqueur
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
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