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Much like making great wine, brewing premium sake is an art. It starts with the rice, a special sake varietal that is polished to eliminate at least 30 percent of the protein on the exterior of the grain. Generally, the more polished the rice, the higher the class of sake.
A quick tip for buying sake: Go straight for the refrigerator. The best sakes are never kept at room temperature. Here, a sampling of those served at Jewel Bako, most of which are widely available at liquor stores.
Ginyu ShizukuDaiginjo class (more than 50 percent polished). Very delicate with a rich, flowery aroma. Ideal as an aperitif or with very mild food ($48 for 720 ml).
KaoriGinjo class (40 to 50 percent polished). Smooth and fruity and great with salads and soy sauce based dishes ($12 for 300 ml).
Kan No MaiJunmai class (30 to 40 percent polished). A Jewel Bako exclusive. Like other junmai sakes, this is earthy and robust. Excellent with fish and poultry.
Yashiori No Sake A junmai sake aged for eight years. Complex, sweet and nutty, almost like sherry, and a great match with strong flavors such as chocolate and cheese ($42 for 500 ml).
Kira A honjozo junmai (with distilled alcohol added). A strong, dry and smooth sake that pairs beautifully with rich and spicy food ($21 for 720 ml).
For more information on the history, brewing and serving of sake, check out www.sakeusa.com.
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