Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Okunomatsu Ginjo

Okunomatsu Ginjo

Okunomatsu Ginjo Sake | Fukushima Prefecture

There was a thing going around in certain American wine writer circles over the summer, about supporting Japanese sake producers (many of whom were crippled as well by the tsunami) by buying and drinking sake on this one Friday. It didn't take off, mainly because it was silly, and because no one cares about high grade sake. There's very little fine sake available (in Ontario at least). Of course, the cheap, American-made examples in the big green bottles are always available, and always very cheap. But it's as close to true sake as my neighbour's tub of fermented seedless grapes is to the glass of 2001 Señorío de P. Peciña Rioja Reserva I'm drinking right now. At best, it's a cheap imitation; at it's worst, an insult.

I wanted to taste this sake for the sake of understanding a good ginjo, not some stupid American sentimentality. If I'm reading it correctly, the lot number says 1106. So, is it safe to assume that this sake was bottled in June 2011? Should we seriously be worried about nuclear fallout affecting the sake being produced in Fukushima? In any case, the sake was spicy, with fruit character, round and more subdued. Alcohol does come up, as expected.

So, the question remains . . . does it do anyone good to just say drink more sake? I don't think so. A suggestion that people should try sake and learn about its nuances is a good one, but the idea that having people drink it on a certain day does nothing for these producers. As always, education is key. You have to find ways to inspire people to stop buying cheap, factory-made bottles and try finer examples. That's the key to help these producers in the long run; a following of well-informed, knowledgable sake drinkers is infinitely more useful than one day a year where people end up buying cheap American-made sake anyways.

I half-expected the bottle to glow in the dark. Or give me the ability to fly. Sadly, it was just a well-made Ginjo-shu.


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