A Lighter Shade Of Fail

So prior to our dinner with Mike and Claudia, I ran out to procure some libations. Rosé was easy, and yes, I know I’m supposed to be writing a post about the ones we’ve been knocking back with extreme prejudice in this suddenly sweltering weather. (It’s a good thing Al Gore is fat, or I’d really be worried about this climate change hoax that he’s trying to scam us all with). But I also wanted sake, on account of the Korean barbecue.

Now our local place–that’s pretty much across the street–has a good selection of rosé. Sake? Not so much. It looks like the Gekkeikan distributor made them an offer they couldn’t refuse, so that’s pretty much all they have. Except that they also have a bunch of nigori sake, the opaque, unfiltered sweet variety about which I know next to nothing. It might be worth mentioning at this point that I know next to nothing about sake period, other than a few kinds that I particularly like and a few words to look for. But the low alcohol and frequent use of the English word “sweet” kept me away from it.

So I asked Mike to grab a bottle from a different store about 3 miles away, remembering a particularly nice bottle of junmai daiginjo I bought there last year for about $25. I told him to call me from the store with any questions, and he did. He said “this place got mugged by Gekkeikan” or something along those lines, and he brought two bottles identical to those I had resisted buying next door. So we chilled, opened, and tried them.

They weren’t altogether terrible. Unfiltered things can certainly have a character to them. And I love good sake. But for the life of me I can’t think what marketing genius decided that this is the product that is finally going to break into the American market. It’s sweet, yeah, and sort of cloying, but it’s hard for me to imagine average joes getting behind something that looks like milk and tastes a lot like expired horchata. Hell, my 5 year old loves sake (I let him have little sips of whatever we’re drinking) and he doesn’t even like this stuff. And I’m pissed that I can’t get something decent in the vicinity any more. These two bottles don’t have Gekkeikan on the label–the only ones, apparently–but I’m wondering what exactly the hell is up with this seeming takeover of local liquor stores by this obviously inferior (and not less expensive) product. Anybody know anything? I’m going to put on my Very Serious Journalist hat and look into this at some point, but meanwhile I’ll be straining the lees out of these bottles to make pickles, and using the liquid (both with and without the goat whey, since they’re both cloudy and white) in marinades, gravies, and the like.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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