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A fermented rice drink native to Japan, sake has less acidity and tannin than wine. Its delicacy and freshness are backed by a savoury-edged palate and moreish drinkability. Best served at room temperature. Read our Q&A with Yukino
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1- 16 27

You hold the prestigious title of Sake Samurai - one of only 3 in Australia - what made you fall in love with Sake?

There are few main reasons – people, being a part of Japanese traditional industry, and joy tasting Sake. Our Sake journey started when my husband Andrew Cameron, co-founder of Deja vu Wine Company (our distributor in Australia) said Japanese Sake is one of Japanese treasure and want to show more about it in Australia. That was 10 years ago. Since then, we met so many Sake brewery owners and Sake makers and Sake business related people in Japan and also internationally. I visit Sake breweries every winter to get more knowledge and experience. This is outside my business and it is my Sake time, and Sake makers are so generous to spend time with me and show me whatever they can. I really enjoy and appreciate it. Also I judge Sake at International Wine Challenge in London every year. Sake judges comes from all over the world, I like to be with them – it is a kind of Sake family community. I miss those since COVID started…

Sake can go back to more than 2000 years in Japan. Sake is a part of our life and Sake industry has their own tradition.

We, Deja vu Sake Company represents 12 Sake brands and the oldest brewery has more than 515 year history. And all brewery is owned by ‘family’. We work with those families who aim to continue their family business. It is not easy now as things changes so much, but they are so determined. I like that element and I like to see ourselves is a part of those family.

There are so much different style, story, regionality, different rice, climate, water, yeast, regionality, Sake making philosophy etc etc. When you taste Sake knowing those stories behind make me to appreciate more and joyful experiences. 

Sake - served chilled or hot?

I like both. Few tips – chilled Sake is nice and refreshing in summer and warm sake warms your heart and body in winter. If your Sake is fruity and aromatic style, then serving chilled is recommended. If you warm aromatic and floral style Sake, you lose its nice smell and make Sake bit dull. If your Sake is more earthy and savoury style, then warm it to around 45 to 50 degree, that will be nice. Sake has lots of lactic acidity, and you taste more this kind of acidity when it is warm. Warming can takes off edge and make it rounder, I think. I personally like to have warm Sake to start of dinner. It relax you and waking your appetite.

What is your favourite food pairing with Sake?

Sake is very versatile beverage when it come with food paring due to its sweetness and high umami components. I highly recommend to have Sake with Pizza! Cheese has lots of Umami, so they can complement each other. If your Sake is aromatic and light body, then Carpaccio would be nice. And if your Sake is earthy style Sake, Aussie BBQ like steaks and sausages would be nice too.

Once I open a bottle of Sake, how long will it last?

10 days to 2 weeks should be fine in fridge. I recommend to finish quickly with aromatic and fruity Sake while it is still fresh. With earthy and savoury style Sake can go longer in the fridge. During Sake making process, they use open barrels for fermentation so it is kind of oxidated already, so it could last longer than wine for example.

There are so many wonderful styles and categories of sake to explore - where would you recommend a sake novice start? And what should a connoisseur look to next?

There are a number of grades and style in Sake. I recommend to start your Sake journey with Sake style. I can group them into 3 style group 1) Light body and dry and crisp Sake, 2) light to medium body aromatic and floral style Sake, and 3) medium to full body earthy and savoury style Sake with more acidity and umami. You can find your favourite style. After you find your favourite Sake style, then you can learn about more technical terms like Daiginjo, Ginjo, Junmai etc in Sake grades, and also Sake making methods used like Yamahai and Kimoto. Once you are comfortable with those words and your Sake, then I would go ‘regionality’ and local foods paring. Sake was only alcohol beverage in Japan till modern era, so local food and culture influenced and shaped Sake style in each area.

Is there a little known spot in Japan (hidden gem known by locals) that visitors should not miss?

One of our favourite place is Kanazawa city in Ishikawa prefecture. It is little Kyoto and has so much to enjoy – foods, market, traditional pottery called Kutaniyaki and lacquer wears, Kenrokuen Garden and Samurai residence area. You can go to drive from Kanazawa city to Noto Peninsula and experience hot spring, beach, Japanese style hotel Ryokan and local foods etc. Also we like to travel from Kanazawa to Kyoto by train with lunch bento box and small size Sake bottles. Train travel along side of Biwa lake. Very relaxing.