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  • Writer's pictureSake Buddha

My Struggle to Find Sake Variety

Well I was listening to the Sake on Air podcast about sake basics and had a realization about something I already knew. The podcast was covering sake basics. John Gauntner was giving tips on how to pick a sake without any real knowledge. He gave some good advice. However, I thought to myself that he lives in Japan where you have a gigantic sake selection. They talked about how some cities have a good sake market where you can find many varieties, but most of America probably has one or two sakes available to purchase at stores near them.

Now, like a majority of American’s I live in a “sake desert”. Sake is hard to come by and when you find it the variety is extremely limited. I know locally if I went to a wine and spirits shop, I would find maybe 3 types of sake if I am lucky. I can order more varieties online via the state wine and liquor stores web page, but they lack crucial information on the sake. You can’t see the SMV (nihonshu-do), the acidity (sanmi), or polishing rate (seimaibui). I could find that information, but I would need to google each bottle and try and the find the information elsewhere. I know there are other places online to order sake, but Pennsylvania’s liquor laws are archaic, and I am not sure if I could even use one of those services. (In all fairness PA is trying to modernize its liquor laws to be more friendly.)

Now, I would say I am on the edge of the “sake desert”. I am about 120 miles from New York City. So when I need to stock up on Sake I have to drive 2-3 hours to a Mitsuwa Japanese Supermarket. Then I buy a few bottles to take home and enjoy. Now, I don’t mind doing this since we make a family day out of it. My wife (who is Japanese) stocks up on items she needs for our home, we enjoy some of the delicious food at the food court, and we typically pick up a manga or two for the kids. However, sometimes I run out of sake and I am stuck.

I am by no means a sake snob. I have no problem buying a cheap bottle of sake. My gotos for the sake I can get near me are Tyku and Fuki. Both of those are relatively in expensive $10-$25 range. They taste great and I enjoy them, but I also enjoy trying new sakes.

Part of the sake selection at Mitsuwa in NJ.

As I was driving (when I do some of my best thinking) the only way to get stores to carry more varieties would be to increase the demand for sake. How, could I one person do that? Now, in a previous post I talked about working on sake certifications and I realized that might be my solution. I need to get qualified up to a certified sake advisor. Then I would need to find a way to maybe work with the various Japanese restaurants near me and have brewery take over nights or something. I can introduce people to different brands and types of sake. I can educate them a little bit and hopefully that will slowly begin to build up demand for sake in liquor stores.

My big dilemma would be how would I go about pulling this off. I mean I have no real connections in the sake industry. That would be the main part of the this plan I would need to research.

Well that was my thought on how to possibly turn this sake desert into a sake oasis. Right, now all I can do is share my sake, my knowledge, and my love for sake with the people I know and hope it starts to slowly spread.

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