WSET Level 3 Award in Sake comes to BC!

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The newest certification in sake is also sake’s most ambitious. The WSET Level 3 Award in Sake tries to go beyond what other sake courses (in English) offer, by going further in-depth into sake’s raw materials, production methods and processes, as well as creating the WSET’s industry-standard, Systematic Approach to Tasting, specifically for sake.

Nothing can beat going to Japan and visiting real sake breweries, seeing for yourself how sake is made. But if you want a good basis for embarking further into your sake journey, then this course may be the ticket.

I am honoured to teach the first WSET sake course in Vancouver, BC., along with my dear sake colleague, Marcus Pakiser, recent awardee of Sake Samurai, we will teach the course together. Between us, we have over 30 years experience in sake–both of us have made sake commercially so we understand the processes implicitly, and we share a deep appreciation for learning and sharing our sake knowledge.

This will be the first WSET sake certification course in Western Canada. If you’re interested in becoming one of the first in BC to receive the certification and learn from one of only 60 of Sake Samurai in the world, you can find out more via Vinoscenti’s website, or feel free to contact me. Dates for the first certification will be March 11-13, 2016 with exam a week later.

The 3-day  intensive will include a visit to YK3 Sake Brewery, a local producer of sake in Richmond, BC. A real Toji–master sake brewer–runs this brewery. This will help ensure students truly understand how sake is made–a rare opportunity.

Join us for what is sure to be a great sake adventure!

Kanpai!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nihonshu Noel

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December Greetings!

It has been a crazy year, and through the ups and downs the constant has always been sake! In the current edition of The Bulletin, the monthly magazine published by the Japanese Canadian Citizens Association, I have a few sake gift suggestions.

We are getting more and more interesting sakes into the BC market. Get out there and explore the myriad of flavours and aromas each sake possesses and find what fits your palate.

Some suggestions on where to find sake in Vancouver:

Legacy Liquor Store in the Olympic Village neighbourhood has a dedicated sake fridge. The sake is stored cold and therefore fresher, as it doesn’t degrade as fast.

Kitsilano Wine Cellar on 4th Ave has a great sake selection. If you like the big magnum-sized sake bottles called isshobin (1.8L), Kits has the largest selection in town.

BC Liquor Store – Cambie and 39th – has more sake than most of the government liquor stores. That’s not saying much, but if you don’t want to pay the extra retail markup at private stores, this is one of the few government-run stores with a better-than-the-usual-pathetic selection.

Viti Wine and Lager located in Downtown Vancouver, has some interesting sakes, many of which lie in the fridge. However, last time I was there buying a few sakes, the clerk asked me what I was buying. They had no clue it was sake. I gladly explained what it was and why the sake was so cool. That’s kinda sad and certainly doesn’t help to support sake. Education is the key, but nonetheless their buyer has chosen some nice sakes. If you can find it on your own, then you’re golden.

Park Road Liquor Store in Richmond (no website) has a very decent selection of sake, and prices are good here. It may seem a bit drab from the strip-mall exterior, but don’t let that detract you from going in–there’s good sake to be found within.

Happy Holidays! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with much sake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming: Vancouver’s Largest Sake Tasting Event – October 10th!

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Happy Belated Sake Day!  October 1st is Nihonshu no Hi — the official start to the sake brewing season in Japan. There are many events going on this month and we are fortunate to have Western Canada’s largest sake tasting event to coincide with October’s global sake celebrations.

Tonari Gumi’s 14th Sake Tasting Event will be held on October 10th, 2015 from 7:00-9:30pm at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. More info can be found on the event’s Facebook page. This fundraising event to help support Tonari Gumi’s social programs for seniors and new immigrants is vital to the organization.

Tickets are $75 per person, in advance until October 9th, and there’s also VIP tickets you can purchase which are $95. VIP’s get a special seminar and exclusive tasting prior to the event start. Go to their FB page for more details.

Along with a huge selection of sakes — 13 importers from the SABC, the Sake Association of BC, will be on-hand to pour and share great stories about their sakes — there will be a ton of nibbles to accompany the array of nihonshu you’ll be able to taste. Well-known local restaurants such as Forage, Octopus’ Garden, Minami and Hapa Izakaya will be preparing delicious appetizers for the event. A silent auction with lots of goodies will be available as well.

Sounds like a fun night and all the money goes to helping a worthy cause. Hope to see you there!

To find more about Tonari Gumi and their programs, please check out their website. They have many events going on year-round, including special food and sake events. I did a great seminar at their new facility back in March and it was a lot of fun. So please go check out their website for other upcoming events.

Kanpai!

elise

Ming Pao Feature on Sake

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I was fortunate to be featured in last Sunday’s Ming Pao Newspaper in Vancouver. The Ming Pao is one of the largest Chinese daily newspaper chains based in Hong Kong, with overseas outposts at several major Canadian cities.

I recently received my Level 3 Award in Sake by the WSET, one of the world’s largest wine/spirits educators based in London, England, with schools that offer certifications across the globe. Being the first female in Canada to pass the examinations, the newspaper wanted to ask me some key questions about sake. I will be teaching the course as well, and hope to set something up in Vancouver.

I was happy they focused on how sake can be paired with food outside the realm of Japanese. Chinese food, in particular, goes wonderfully with sake. Because sake has so much umami–the 5th flavour/sense–and Chinese food has great amounts of umami–natural or sometimes added (msg)–the two elements match exquisitely.

Ah, Dim sum with a nice junmai ginjo or a sturdy junmai!

Steamed Chicken’s feet, a dim sum standard which I love, pairs nicely with Shichihonyari Gin Fubuki Junmai, a new offering in the BC market. Instead of warm tea, try a warm version of Fuji Takasago Yamahai Junmai Ginjo with dumplings like har gow or sui mai and don’t forget the cheung fun–a steamed rice noodle wrapped in shrimp, beef, or mushroom variations, topped with a light kiss of oil and soy sauce.

The article also talks about how sake goes well with pizza–yes that’s right, pizza!

Sake is extremely versatile and with less than a third of the acidity of wine (some experts say lesser), the ability to match all manner of international foods with sake is endless.

All this talk of sake and food is making me hungry!

Kanpai!

elise

Yoshi no Gawa Sake Tasting in Richmond

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This Friday, October 17th, you can meet in person, Koji Kawakami, president of Yoshi no Gawa Sake Brewery from Niigata, Japan. He will be making a special appearance at Toku Restaurant in Richmond, BC, pouring some special sakes for customers. The restaurant, located at Lansdowne Mall, will be offering specials upon purchase of a bottle of Yoshi no Gawa to celebrate Kawakami-san’s visit. Above, is a photo of me with Kawakami-san (L) and Patrick Ellis (R), president of Blue Note Wines & Spirits, Canadian importer of Yoshi no Gawa.

Kawakami-san tells me that his brewery was established in 1548, and is the 5th oldest continuously operating sake brewery in Japan. They have never stopped producing in over 460 years! That’s pretty amazing–and something tells me they have a pretty good handle on making sake because of it. Because of its long-standing history, Yoshi no Gawa is also Niigata prefecture’s oldest brewery, so in fact, they are pioneers in this famous sake-producing region.

Kawakami-san will be in attendance starting at 6pm. Please say hello to him and taste some of his lovely sake.

Kanpai!

elise

October 1st is Nihonshu no Hi – World Sake Day!

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Hello Fellow Sake Fans,
Just a brief note about October 1st, which is World Sake Day. It marks the start of the brewing season and is a great reason to get together with friends to share in a boisterous KANPAI!!

Please get out there and enjoy some sake on October 1st! If you are indeed free, there is a tasting in Richmond tomorrow with Masumi Sake. Miyasaka Shuzo is an amazing brewery from Suwa, Nagano and their well-known brand is called Masumi, which is now available in BC.

Keith Norum, the Overseas Operations Director at Miyasaka Shuzo will be on-hand to pour samples of Masumi Junmai Ginjo “Karakuchi Kiippon” and chat about sake. He is a Canadian who has lived in Japan  for over 20 years and has some great stories to tell. Special food offers will be available with purchase of Masumi sake at the event.
The event will be at Toku Restaurant inside the Lansdowne Mall in Richmond. It is located on the Alderbridge Way side of the mall near the Toys R Us.

If you can’t make it, try to have some sake tomorrow! Also, this week in sake, you can check out the Tonari Gumi Sake Tasting Event. Tonari Gumi is the Japanese volunteer association in Vancouver, which assists Japanese seniors and new immigrants with their outreach programs. Their fundraising event boasts the largest sake tasting in Western Canada and it’s happening this Saturday, October 4th! Hope to see you with sake in hand this week!

Happy Nihonshu no Hi! Happy Sake Day!

Kanpai,
elise