Matsumoto is getting greener and greener with fresh new leaves. We are finally out of a long cold winter, so although we could ski and snowboard before, it’s time for a change!
Whenever we are around Matsumoto station, Matsumoto castle and other tourist spots, we often see many foreign tourists from all over the world. No doubt most have tried Soba (buckwheat noodles) since Nagano prefecture is famous for it, but we wonder how many have tried Japanese Sake while they are in Matsumoto, thanks to the many local brewers around.
Sake (pronounced as sa-keh) is made from rice (Kome) and water and has been imbibed since ancient times. You can enjoy Sake hot (called Atsukan), cold (called Hiiya), or at room temperature. There are many grades of Sake, depending on how much the rice is polished away and any addition of distilled alcohol to enhance flavors.
Here are some grades of Sake which you may come across:
This is premium Sake brewed with very highly polished rice (to at least 50%). It’s generally light, complex, and quite fragrant.
This is Sake brewed with very highly polished rice (to at least 60%). It’s generally light, aromatic, fruity, and refined.
This Sake is brewed with highly polished rice (to at least 70%). It’s generally light, mildly fragrant, and easy to drink.
Some other Sake words you may hear are:
Indicates that the Sake was made from rice, water, and Koji (Sake mold) only and without distilled alcohol. The term “Junmai” can be combined with the grades of Sake above.
Any of the above Sake that has not been pasteurized. It is kept refrigerated and tends to have a stronger aroma.
Here are some better-known Sake brewers in the Matsumoto and Azumino area:
Daishinshu / leading brand: Dai-Shinshu
Iwanami / leading brand: Iwanami
Kamedaya / leading brand: Alps Masamune
Daisekkei / leading brand: Daisekkei
There are many wonderful Sake selections from all over Nagano prefecture, so do take the time to try them and find one you like. You may find there’s a lot more to Sake savoring than you think!
Have a nice drink. Kanpai!(means cheers!)