By Holly Glen Gearhart
Most of us can identify the Japanese libation sake as a rice wine, but how many of us can describe its taste? What would you think wine from rice may taste like?
Tonight at the East County Senior Center, you are invited to find out.
Sake was first brewed around 300 B.C. in Japan, and each vintage–flavor and brewing techniques–was particular to a village. Villagers gathered together to produce their own wine; distinguished, perhaps, by the cuisine of that village. The production began with villagers chewing the rice, adding enzymes to the brew, and then fermenting the masticated grain in wooden containers.
More widespread production of sake began in the early 1800s; and production concentrated in Nada, a more centralized region located in the Hyogo prefecture. Nada is today considered the main production center for sake and is where water power plays an essential role in milling the rice to produce a finer brew.
During WWII rice became very expensive and the production of sake was not as widespread as before. Sake consumption became a luxury and no longer a common beverage for everyone. As the price of sake rose, the wine was considered a delicacy for the well-to-do and the Samurai set.
In recent years the growing popularity of sake, known as nihonshu in Japan, led to experimenting with new types of rice and yeast. Today’s sake bears little resemblance to its ancient origins, so we’ll likely never know what the sake of yore was like, beyond knowing that the beverage has a long pedigree.
Sake was at one time also brewed in Korea and China, as well as Japan. Over the years it was more closely identified with Japan and is where production continues today.
Tonight at the East County Senior Center, 276 Sky River Pkwy., at 6:30 p.m., you can experience sake for yourselves and learn the traditions and history of this well-known but hard-to-describe Japanese libation, presented by Clearview Spirits & Wines. The tasting is free to ECSC members and $3 for non-members.