- Sake Terminology —
- Genshu No water is added. The sake is undiluted.
- Junmain Grade of sake determined by how much the grains of rice are milled.
- Go-Dan A sake that has undergone an extended brewing process.
- Muroka A sake that hasn’t undergone any clarification, the sake still has it’s original colour.
- Shikomi A first press sake, no pressure is applied during pressing.
Does cheese match with sake? Kumo Izakaya hosted Sake Master Andre Bishop and Cheese Master Will Studd for a degustation that pushed the boundaries of food and wine matching.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival featured a series of dinners that required attendees to push aside their pre-conceptions in pursuit of new and exciting tasting experiences. On paper, cheese and sake don’t seem to be a likely match. However, as Bishop and Studd began to explain the method behind their madness, the relationship became a little clearer. Carefully curated, each match considered the texture, richness and flavours of the cheese to select sake that refreshed the palate and built layers of umami. As per Andre Bishop “sake has 7 times the number of amino acids than wine … there is so much umami and that really works well with food.” The courses that followed help to prove that theory…
Mauri Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania
Kirei Shuzo ‘Hachi Ku’ — Hiroshima, Junmai Go-Dan Skikomi Muroka Genshu
“Buffalo Mozzarella by itself, wouldn’t work with sake. However, this mozzarella was marinated in miso paste and I think you’ll find it works well with the sake” Will Studd
Will Studd Brillat Savarin
Ota Shuzo ‘Dokan’ — Hyogo, Junmai Ginjo Yamahai Genshu
“A triple cream cheese from the Champagne region, the secret is that the cream is slowly fermented overnight. The one thing that I’ve learnt is that fermentation is a key to getting the flavours of umami out of the cheese and that is where they start to work really well with the sake.” Will Studd
“Because the cheese is so creamy, I’m looking for a sake with decent acidity to combat its density. As a Yamahai, this sake engages in a longer fermentation process.” Andre Bishop
La Couronne M/P Comte Vieux Gruyer
Mutemuka Shuzo ‘Mutemuka’ — Kochi, Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu
“Matured in the Fort-San-Antone at high altitude. As these cheeses mature they give up a little bit of ammonium.” Will Studd
“A key consideration was that this sake has to compete with nutty, chalky, roasted chestnut flavours.” Andre Bishop
Cravero Parmigiano Reggiano
Akishika Shuzo ‘Okarakuchi’ — Osaka, Junmai, Muroka Nama Genshu
“Because we have tried a lot of rich full bodied styles, I thought we should choose something that is mineral and dry. This profile works with the saltiness of the Parmigiano … very different to the sake we have had till this stage of the dinner.” Andre Bishop
Konishi Shirayuki ‘Cheepon’ — Kyoto, Ginjo
“Sake starts with mould and that is what the cheese has in it, mould. All blue cheese, regardless of where it is made, is made with penicillin Roquefort mould.” Will Studd
“I enjoyed the play of sweet and salt. There are little crystals of salt in the cheese and that made me think of the harmony between sweet and salt. In the past I’ve been served Roquefort and honey so I chose a sake with a lot of residual sweetness to match it.” Andre Bishop
Andre Bishop on sake service:
“With the evolution in sake and brewers paying more attention to the aromatics, drink in the traditional vessels, though it is a nice ritual, it doesn’t do justice to the quality of the current product.”
“Unfortunately most Australians have an experience with drinking a scolding hot sake straight out of the microwave and then when they try premium sake, they are surprised when they drink it chilled … In the past sake was heated because it was quite rough and heating it made it more palatable. Premium sake is generally designed to be drunk cool because it is a refined, premium product.”