Jan 10: Vinexpo India in Delhi last month had organised 14 Masterclasses on wine and spirits with Sake being the last of them, reaching a crescendo with Mika Eoka, the visiting Master Sake Sommelier from Japan and a co-founder of Sake Club of India, who conducted the Masterclass along with the co-founder Col Ravi Joshi (Retd), presenting Sake in the Glass and reporting as a Guest writer
Sake is a relatively new beverage in India. We may think of it as Wine 20 years ago. But there’s always an upside to newbies- and that is peoples’ inquisitiveness to know more about them. Precise reason why I thought of creating Sake Club India (SCI) after my trip to Japan’s Sake breweries along with my Tokyo based co-founding partner Mika Eoka.
For the uninitiated, SCI is an Indo-Japanese community to share the knowledge and passion of Sake through tastings, training, tourism and online interactions. The vibrant platform comprises Sake brewers, sommeliers, importers, consumers and other trade people largely from India and Japan but also from other parts of the world.
India’s first Vinexpo afforded us a golden opportunity to showcase Sake and conduct a Masterclass to drive home the Sake point. We spoke to brewers in various prefectures of Japan and were glad to receive their support to make our participation a reality. Apart from the three breweries- Kunimare from Hokkaido, Rokka Shuzo from Aomori and Nanbu Bijin from Iwate) that directly participated in Vinexpo India where we also showcased a good range of Sakes from the Tottori Prefecture of Japan.
Masterclass the highpoint
A high point of our Vinexpo India presence was a Masterclass conducted by both Mika and I. Mika is a globally acclaimed Master Sake Sommelier who also has a good experience of Indian culture and cuisine. Together with my Wine, and now Sake experience, we complement each other at such presentations.
It was encouraging to witness a full house and more audience on the sidelines who were eager to lap up the knowledge that we had planned to share with them. Thanks to insistence by Mr. Subhash Arora- a key person associated with Vinexpo India as Advisor and Conference Chairman - we saved up on Sake to be able to serve everybody at the masterclass. We served three different styles of Sake, one each from the respective sponsoring breweries as an ample exposure to the audience’s palate within the time constraints of the masterclass.
Wine or Beer?
The most common question encountered about Sake is about its classification as wine or beer. At the outset, our masterclass highlighted the similarities and differences of Sake with Wine and Beer- to summarise that Sake is neither a “rice wine” or a “rice beer” but rather an alcoholic beverage of its own standing deeply rooted in ancient history. So strongly is Sake embedded in Japanese culture that it is also officially denominated as the Japanese National Beverage called “Nihon-shu” meaning “Japanese Alcohol”. See the box for some key points on Sake as covered in our masterclass.
We thank the organisers of Vinexpo India for their unstinted support to Sake during this maiden edition and are positive that this may just be the beginning- as we plan to get more and more Sakes to test the Indian suitors in the future editions.
Here’s raising a Kampai (Jai Ho) to such prospects.
For continuous updates on Sake, visit our FB group at www.sakeclubindia.com and send a join request.
Key Facts about Sake
• Fermented, not distilled.
• Made with Rice, Koji (a mould), Yeast and Water.
• Sake rice is a fatter grain having higher starch content- quite different from table rice.
• “Multiple Parallel Fermentation” is a production process unique to Sake.
• Like wine, the “Terroir” concept can be loosely applicable to Sake with the variables being- rice variety, water from specific regions, strain of Koji and Yeast etc.
• Sake as a category can be made anywhere in the world but “Nihon-shu” i.e. “Japanese Sake” is a Geographical Indication (GI).
We are glad to share that Sake and SCI will play an important and even bigger role in Vinexpo India at the Bombay Exhibition Center on 10-12 May, 2022 in Mumbai. We also regret that due to space constraint this article could not be published in the previous edition-editor
If you Like this article please click on the Like button