Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Texas Saké (a surprise addition to your 4th of July?)

Did you know Texas makes saké?  I didn’t until recently.  And it’s not just any sake:  it’s saké made from the same type of rice used in Japan, it’s organic, and it’s good.  I don’t typically like saké very much, so I’m not a connoisseur, but I do know that the fresh, crisp, grassy, earthy, and slightly sweet notes in this saké made it better than almost any I’ve had.  And I’m always excited to promote organic and Texas-made products.

I learned about the Texas Saké Company a couple of weeks ago when I attended the opening of an art exhibition at the Asia Society.  The evening had a Japanese theme, so the Texas Saké Company was there offering samples.  I learned that Texas is rare because it is one of only “a few areas outside of Japan that grow the right type of rice to make sake.”  Apparently this type of rice was brought to Texas in the early 1900s and grows here so well that from then until now, most of the rice grown in Texas has been Japanese rice.  The Texas Saké Company in Austin uses “centuries-old handcrafted techniques” to create its saké in small batches that are certified organic.  They are producing the “first and only saké made from Texas rice.”

It comes in 2 types.  “Whooping Crane” is a traditional saké.  (That's the one in the picture, which I borrowed from their web site, and hopefully they won't mind!)  “Rising Star” is a coarsely filtered sake, which is cloudy and has a creamier mouth-feel.  They are available at Central Market, Whole Foods, and Houston Wine Merchant.  Both types cost roughly $22 for a 375ml bottle, and $35 for 750ml.

If you like saké, or maybe even if you think you don’t, I encourage you to give these a try.  They would be a nice accompaniment if you're grilling chicken or fish on July 4.  Make sure you chill them!  And if you’re in the Austin area, stop by and visit – the tasting room is open every Saturday.

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