A delicious Western delicacy, cheese is available in many varieties and is loved all over the world. Although cheese is usually paired with wine, there are many excellent matches with sake as well.
Mozzarella, a fresh cheese, goes well with the milkiness of kimoto junmai-shu. The milkiness of both the cheese and the sake provide a compelling combination.
The Camembert of Normandy is noted for its delectable richness, its saltiness, and the aroma of its white mold. Its melting-soft texture works beautifully with the mild depth of a tokubetsu junmai sake.
Roquefort, with its blue mold and distinctive smell, is best suited to daiginjo sake. The luxurious fruity fragrance and smooth sweetness of the sake is an extraordinary good match for the saltiness of Roquefort.
The pungent but creamy, addictive flavor of Epoisses de Bourgogne is well suited to the mellow richness of a well-matured sake. The sake nicely complements the texture of the cheese.
Chevre (goat's cheese) offers a fantastic combination of acidity and milkiness. Sainte-Maure de Touraine, with its cylindrical form and coating of black ash, goes wonderfully with refreshing sparkling sake.
Hard cheese is an especially good match for sake. The amino acids that have developed during the long process of maturing bring out the best in sake. Pair Comte, one of the classic French cheeses, with junmai-shu. Comte Extra, which has been aged longer, goes best with a mature koshu. This offers an incredible flavor combination, similar to that of terrine of foie gras with Sauternes. One taste opens up a new world of cheese and sake combinations.
The pairing of foie gras and long-matured daiginjo is superb. The alcohol of the daiginjo is smooth and mellow, complementing the rich sweetness of the foie gras. The bitter finish found in mature sake leaves the mouth free of any lingering fattiness.
Sake helps to subdue the fishiness of roe, while emphasizing its wonderful flavor. Pour some sparkling sake into a champagne flute glass and enjoy with a little caviar. Champagne and caviar may be the norm, but this gorgeous pairing is just as good.
Outstanding pasta boasts real flavor in itself, that of the grain. The complex flavors of pasta dishes are created by adding various sauces to this foundation. The potency of the grain and pasta's pleasant texture make it perfect with sake.
Daiginjo sake is a good match for pasta prepared with a rich tomato seafood sauce, while yamahai-zukuri tokubetsu junmaishu is a great choice for pasta carbonara seasoned with plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
By aging an already rich food, game offers wonderfully complex flavors. A barrel-matured junmaishu is a perfect match for a simple roast - a combination not even a ripe Meursault can beat.
Dishes served with sauces will go best with kimoto-style junmaishu that has been well matured.
Go ahead, try chocolate and sake! There's a good chance you'll be amazed at how good the combination can be.
A jewel-like truffle made with good-quality cocoa is complemented to perfection by a gleaming amber long-matured sake. The resulting flavor is the sweetness of honey or maple syrup with a bitter finish and smooth alcoholic bite.
More about sake
Reprinted with permission from the book:
The Sake Selection: Brands of Distinction
Yosiaki Yanada / GAP Japan