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A different drink
Appreciation deepens for premium sake
July 6, 1999
(CNN) -- Think of sake as a warm drink served with your sushi? Think again. What about sake that is crisp and cool, savored slowly from a wine glass and paired with fine foods?
Premium sake (sah-kay) is an up-and-coming drink. Imported from Japan or made domestically, the high-end sake started trickling across the United States about five years ago.
"This isn't a trend, this is real," says Steven Olson, president of Libations, a company that specializes in education and consultation on wine and spirits. "People are liking this stuff."
Sake is fermented from milled rice, and most varieties are pasteurized. Although often grouped into the beer classification, premium sake seems closer in characteristics to wine.
Serving sake hot is a classic technique traditionally meant to mask the taste of low-quality brews. But with finer sakes, chilling brings out the best flavor.
Olson says good sake can be had for about $10 to $20 a bottle. While prices can go much higher, he doesn't recommend going much lower.
Premium sake is sold in spirit stores throughout the United States but is easier to find in larger markets. Some Japanese restaurants sell sake by the glass, a good way to taste on a small scale.
"All sake tastes better with food than alone," Olson says. "It's much more comfortable with food."
He does not recommend pairing sake with sushi since it contains rice, the same basic ingredient of sake. Instead try it with fish or other Japanese dishes.
John Gauntner's Sake World
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