How to Buy Premium Saké
© Grif Frost

Most good wine shops now carry a fine selection of premium sakés. If they don't have the sakés listed below, simply ask them to request it from their wholesaler. Once saké is bottled, it does not age well like a wine. Fresher is better. All of the sakés listed below have "best enjoyed by" dates on the back of each bottle (unfortunately most sakés sold in the US do not have a freshness date).

All of the sakés listed below also are made in the USA, since generally, American made sakés are a much better value than imported sakés since the cost of saké rice in the US is one-tenth the cost of saké rice overseas. Plus the US sakés have labels which are in English and easy to understand - always a plus! Make sure to always serve these sakés ice cold, in a wine glass. Enjoy!

Premium "Ginjo" Sakés: 15% alcohol; 750 ml/$10

Momokawa Silver: Dry, clean, moderately full, with subtle rice and mineral tones that pairs well with sashimi, tempura and white meats.

Momokawa Diamond: Medium dry, smooth, easy yet full tasting on the palate; a flowing stony dry taste that is excellent with grilled meats and pan fried seafood.

Momokawa Ruby: Soft, smooth with tropical overtones; pairs well with lightly spiced foods. A very consumer friendly traditional saké.

Momokawa Pearl: Roughly filtered "Nigori" saké, which is naturally sweet; creamy, almost coconut-like flavor; highly recommended with heavily spiced foods. Momokawa Pearl is 18% alcohol so be careful, it is so smooth and easy to drink it can creep up on you!

Infused Sakés: Wonderful for the first time premium saké drinker; 13.5% alcohol; 750 ml/$10

Moonstone Asian Pear: A very subtle infusion of pear flavor makes this more pure saké-like when it enters the palate - soft, easy, slightly sweet - and finishing with a crisp, pear-like fruitiness.

Moonstone Yuzu: A lime flavored saké with a lovely, fresh, penetrating citrus perfume, a fine and zesty, off-dry taster, and bracing, citrus vodka-like edge that works great with Mexican food, barbeques, salads or mixed with a little sparkling water and citrus wedges.

Moonstone Hazelnut: A bright, fresh, hazelnut scent with vanilla beans and caramel nuances, followed by a palate freshening, off-dry taste. A wonderful saké to pair with desserts.

Moonstone Raspberry: Quite in your face raspberry aroma which appeals to folks who don't drink much. Often used, as are many of the sakés, as a cocktail mixer in place of white spirits or served straight on the rocks.

Ultra-premium (Daiginjo) Sakés: 750 ml/$30

The "Y" brand of sakés were developed under the supervision of celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi, owner of the Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine restaurants called "Roy's." These are the first ultra-premium sakés made outside of Japan.

Y Wind: The driest of the Y sakés - fairly full (16% alcohol), and lightly crisp (1.7 acidity) - and in the finest tradition of "Daiginjo" comes across almost lyrically nuanced in the nose and palate. An amazingly multifaceted, clear-cut scent; suggesting more than rice, but also wet stones, salted cantaloupe, green melon, mango and banana oil. Becomes stonier, almost flinty on the palate; bracingly dry, flowing easily like silk cloth waving in the wind. Recommended saké for wine connoisseurs.

Y Sky: A tad lighter (14.5% alcohol) than the Y Wind, with a perceptible edge off sweetness, yet finishing soft, smooth, and closer to dry. It is more flowery scented - intimating crisp mountain air and stony brooks, faint char and anise - and the feathery qualities on the palate give mild melony impressions between the stony and creamy textures.

Y Rain: A radical saké which is infused with the essence of ginger, ostensibly for culinary purposes - aiming towards a match with Asian influenced foods, the same way that ginger is often used as a condiment. The body is fairly light and easy and has a light to medium sweetness to underline orange peel, ginger, tropical flower and lemon nuances in the nose; while fruity, it flows across the palate with a snappy, citrusy freshness, finishing on an off-dry note.

Y Snow: A roughly filtered (Nigori), slightly diluted (Genshu) saké, Y Snow is a milky white, full and viscous saké (each bottle needs to be well shaken before pouring); the lush, wall-to-wall flavors filling out a big body (17.5% alcohol) and an emphatic medium sweetness. As always serve ice cold for an airy, soft, draping, snowy effect on the palate.

April 17, 2002

Grif Frost's report, "Is Saké the Wine of the Future?".

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