Monday, February 4, 2013

Sake time at The Gray Report

Karaoke box, Tokyo, 2 a.m.
Welcome to sake fortnight at The Gray Report! See you next month.

Seriously, I'm in Japan and I'm going to blog about sake for the next two weeks. I'm a huge fan of sake, one of the most diverse and interesting drinks in the world. The range of flavors that brewers can coax from rice is amazing.

"When I pour people the first good sake they've ever had, they say, 'Wow! Sake is really great!' They love it," says Yoshihiro Sako, sake specialist at Izakaya Yuzuki in San Francisco.

In the US, sake is hot (not always literally). Sake sales rose 80% in the US last year, albeit from a small base, according to wine industry analyst Jon Fredrikson.

But that heat hasn't spread far from the coasts. K&L Wine Merchants ships sake to 18 states, but sake buyer Melissa Lavrinc Smith says K&L rarely gets sake orders from outside California.

Blogging about sake usually comes at some personal cost. I get about 1/4 the page views, on average, when I blog about sake as when I do about wine. So blogging about sake for two weeks is a good way to lose as many readers as possible.

But what the hell, it's not all about page views. We're in the golden age of sake, and I'd love to see people drink more.

I've written the Sake 101 story for a number of publications but that's usually the only sake story that magazine will run for two years. The next time it runs a sake story, it's back to the beginning. Imagine if the only wine stories you could read were Wine 101: "Wine is made from grapes. Some wines are white, and others are red. Different grapes give different flavors to the wine, but the winemaking choices are also important. Wine can be served chilled, at room temperature or even heated up with spices. Or it can be made into cocktails."

Obviously we have to get beyond that for people to truly take an interest.

So what else can one write about sake? Well, what else does one write about wine?

I'm going to find out. For the next fortnight, I'm going to take advantage of visits to breweries in Japan to write about the people who make sake, the way sakes taste, how to choose a good sake. I'm also going to write about sashimi and karaoke and Pokemon and whatever else seems to fit.

If you have any questions about sake, any at all, ask them in the comments, and I'll answer as well as I can. No bad questions, only the unasked ones.

To be admitted to study in a Buddhist temple in Japan, the tradition is to wait outside. On the first day, they ignore you. On the second day, someone from the temple comes out to tell you to go home. On the third day, a priest comes out and asks what your intentions are. He might invite you to tea inside, and at the end of the meeting, he will tell you again to go home.

If you're still there on the fourth day, that's when you get in.

So that's what I'm trying to do here: stay outside your virtual online consciousness, patiently waiting until you're ready to let some sake in. Don't worry about me: I've got a nice bottle of Manabito Kimoto Junmai Ginjo to keep me company.

Follow me on Twitter: @wblakegray and like The Gray Report on Facebook.


Jon Bjork said...

I read it!

Matt Mauldin said...

God luck and godspeed in your pursuit of Sake!