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All about Sake

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic drink made from fermented rice, koji (rice malt or yeast made from rice) and water. There are different opinions as to the true origins of this rather unique beverage, but two books thought to be written around 713AD reference an alcoholic drink made from rice which may show exactly how old this traditional Japanese drink may be. The word ‘sake’ in Japanese, is also generally used to refer to alcoholic drinks.


Sake has maintained its popularity and there are now around 1,600 Japanese breweries producing it. Niizawa Brewery Company has a history of producing Sake that dates back to 1873. The Sakes produced here are dry and are a good match with seafood dishes, for example Kishinamien Umeshu Plum Sake. Tenzan Sake Brewery was first established in 1875 and is based in the north western part of the island of Kyushu. Their focus is on brewing the highest quality sake, by using the best quality rice and work closely with rice farmers, to continue to improve the quality of their Sake, for example Shichida Junmai Ginjo Sake.


Quality Sake is a versatile drink that can be paired with many dishes, but it is generally recommended to drink it with Japanese cuisine. Just like traditional wine, Sake can be enjoyed on its own, but it is recommended that if you aren’t going to eat a meal with it, have a salty snack with it instead.


Some sakes can be consumed at different temperatures. The same drink can taste significantly differently dependent on whether it’s served hot or cold, so it’s worth experimenting to discover which you prefer.


Sake sometimes make an appearance at Japanese Shinto-style wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom traditionally take it in turns to sip Sake from three different sized bowls. Sharing from the bowls is considered to be representing the couple sharing joys and sorrows.


There are some traditional customs often followed when drinking Sake. For example, if you are drinking it in the company of others, then it is traditional that the younger person first pours for the older person. After someone has poured Sake for you, it is considered to be a polite gesture to hold the cup up with one hand and put the other hand underneath the cup. After doing so, you should then take a sip and return the cup to the table.


Sake may be considered to be a simple drink, but it certainly has an enduring charm and popularity that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Browse The Fine Wine Company’s full range of Sake.

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Through the wine glass – Hungary

Hungary is one of many wine producing countries in Eastern Europe that are becoming more popular. Before 1989 wine was a commodity industry like any other in Hungary but now the world market is open to wine makers who want to show off exactly how fantastic their blends and wines are.


There are roughly 22 historic wine growing regions in Hungary which are spread across the country. The Danube runs north to south splitting Hungary in two, before running along the country’s northern border with Slovakia. As one of the newer, lesser known wine countries, Hungary has a lot to offer and their wide range of different growing regions means they produce a lot of wine and plenty of great styles to try.


A wide range of grapes are known to have originated in Hungary including Ezerjó, Hárslevelű, Irsai Olivér, Cserszegi Fűszeres and Királyleányka.


Hungarian White Wines


Hungary has many different white wine growing regions including Lake Balaton, Eger, Etyek-Buda, Tokaj and Mátra. The white wines produced in each region have their own unique character and stem from the fresh and aromatic to those with a high in acidity. The most famous wine region in Hungary is Tokaj and it is known for its warm climate and the perfect conditions for the creation of noble rot. Tokaj is known for the production of high quality dry whites, including Furmint.


Royal Tokaji wines are the most highly acclaimed and most popular of Hungary.


Hungarian Red Wines


Hungarian red wines are characterised by spice, which varies from region to region but the country is particularly known for producing robust reds. They produce a wide range of different wines, with leading varieties including Kékfrankos, Portugieser, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The main red wine growing regions are in Eger, Sopron, Szekszárd and Villány. The last two of these regions are said to produce the best red wines in Hungary and through the use of well-known international grape varietals they are beginning to produce reds that are comparable to some of the best out there.