How to Order Sake (and Five Can't-Go-Wrong Options)

How to Order Sake (and Five Can't-Go-Wrong Options)
flickr: Henry Stradford

Down at SUSHISAMBA dromo in Miami, beverage manager Mackenzie Parks added sake knowledge to her vast repository of wine smarts. Since pairing sake with sushi (and other foods, for that matter) is a true art, Parks has done her research into helping New Times recommend five bottles that'll never do you wrong. 


Parks continues to head up Sake 101 classes (the next one is August 11; call 305-673-5337 for more info), where, in addition to making sushi rolls, students get a primer on pairing various sakes with raw fish. Since the restaurant boasts more than 50 kinds of sake,

matching them up isn't a problem.


To start

with, Parks explains, you'll need a rudimentary understanding of sake's

three grades: junmai, the boldest of the bunch, which pairs well with

most foods; ginjo, slightly more precious and perfumy; and daiginjo,

usually too delicate to attend to anything but simple sashimi. Her list

includes all three varieties.

5. Ichisima Deluxe Junmai "Silk": Offering more sweetness with less alcohol, this smooth crowd-pleaser goes nicely against anything spicy -- the sweet fruitiness just cuts right through it -- or all by its lonesome.


4. Shirikawago Sasanigori Junmai Ginjo Nigori "White Village": Unfiltered, milk-white sakes are no longer the rarity they once were. Many sake fans now realize that the cloudy sakes are also some of the finest, and Parks recommends this Nigori (unfiltered) example with citrus- or viniagrette-based foods.

3. Kamoizumi Junmai-Daiginjo "Autumn Elixir": Due to the "elegance and finesse of a well-made daiginjo," Parks says she wouldn't match this one up with red or gamey meats, but it can stand up nicely to spicy chicken dishes or hamachi (yellowtail) with ponzu sauce.

2. Nambu Bijin Junmai-Ginjo "Southern Beauty": This sake "has a wonderful rich melon bouquet on the nose but is not too 'perfumy,'" says Parks. "I would definitely be happy having this with shellfish-based sushi or a local cobia fillet with a light dashi sauce or even a heavier miso-based sauce."

1. Tomio Tokubetsu Junmai "Ancient Master": If you're looking for a sake you can pour cups of during each course, this is the one Parks would choose. "Super food-friendly," she dubs the Ancient Master, with "a clean finish and fruit- and mineral-filled middle palate."

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