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Ask Udder Smith: Nihonshu basics?

October 25, 2010

Dear Udder:

I love Japanese food, and have decided to try drinking more sake.  The problem is, I don’t know very much about nihonshu, and had a horrible experience while still living in America with some cheap sake.  Now that I live in Japan, I know there are many varieties — please help me choose something light that goes well with Japanese food.

Imbiber in Iwate

Dear Iwate:

First, congratulatory mooooosss for reaching out, culturally, towards what some claim represents the epitome of Japanese taste.  Many of us western breeds, alas, have had run-ins with cheap sake, but with a bit of knowledge, you can choose a mild, wondrous taste. Sake is refining its reputation worldwide, as well as nationwide, as a drink suitable across a spectrum of foods and across a range of ages — not just for o-yajis (little old men) anymore!

I pride myself on my extensive knowledge on moooogaritas, so when I look for something new in Nihonshu, I look towards the world’s English speaking expert, an American living in Japan. Nihonshu is frabjous, but does require a seasoned taste in selection. See his website here:

John Gaunter’s sake website:

Happy imbibing!



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