Sake meets cheese in May 2021: Nakakumi sparkling sake and cave-aged Emmental

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Read it in German.

Walter says: All over Japan Fujimi (Kyoto) is well-known for its easy-going, soft sake, and Tsuki no Katsura is one of the leading Kura or breweries there. It is in fact not only the city’s oldest but also one of its most innovative-minded. Last month we already introduced you to a Nigorizake, a sparkling sake, and we explained that category in some more detail. It is however almost impossible to talk about that kind of sake without mentioning and tasting the very first of them in the whole of Japan, Nakakumi, which Tsuki no Katsura has been making since 1966. Similar to Prosecco Frizzante carbon dioxide is added after the brewing as such, which makes for a very appealing lightness in spite of the sake’s yeasty clouds. Also, it’s a rather dry Nigori, in particular seen in the context of all the other sparkling sake created later on. Its fruit-driven aroma combines with the refreshing sparkle and the very special, “milky” texture, typical for Nigori, and in sum that makes for an extremely intriguing mouthfeel. In the summer Nakakumi is often served on the rocks, and paired with smoked fish and duck.

Brewery: Tsuki No Katsura
Name: Nakakumi Nigorizake
Type: Honjouzo Sparkling Sake (Nigorizake)
Alc.: 17%
SMV: -1.0 bis +1.0
RPR: 60%
Acidity: 1.5
Rice: Gohyakumangoku
Prefecture: Kyoto

Heinzelcheese says: An extremely intriguing mouthfeel – so true! And also a very particular, wonderful balance between “sweet” fruitiness and savoury vigour, acidity as such and carbon dioxide, and I immediately fell for this original. I tasted (well, drank ;) it chilled in a smallish wine glass whose shape suits acidity-driven wines quite well. First it reminded me of equally cloudy PetNat and I paired it with mozzarella di bufala. Which proved to be a mistake: due to the significantly higher alcohol the sake has much more muscle and power, turning the cheese’s lactic acid hard and positively sour, all the buffalo milk’s opulence suddenly reduced to meager stinginess…

So, on to something completely different, cave-aged, 22 months old Emmental from Switzerland: with the characteristic sweet nuttiness of that cheese, though due to the long ageing none of the propionic acid’s (that is responsible for the holes) sharp bite younger wheels often show, its paste very dense and, well, pasty, almost dry; and all of this beautifully balanced by the sake with the help of yeast and alcohol. A dangerously delicious pairing!

Should you be interested in this or other sake, please contact Walter!

This is a monthly series. You can subscribe to it here, and here is how it all began… enjoy!

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