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Aug 23

Mad Men Monday: Sake

There was so much to write about in this week’s episode. My first instinct was to actually write about Coca-Cola through the years. For some reason, they were drinking Coke and not alcohol at the partner’s lunch. I’ll hold on to that one though. You’ll probably see me write it at some point this season.

My next thought was aha! I’ll write about the history of Benihana, which I did. Then Julie posted her version of that post and I deleted my own (my apologies if you saw it then it disappeared). Next! I seriously thought about writing about Drinky Bird. As a kid, I never had a Drinky Bird, so I ordered one last night. I love how fascinated the copywriters were with this toy, and it may show up as a future post as well, as soon as I get a chance to play with one.

Drinky Bird!

That leaves me with sake, which I was actually avoiding. Funny, since sake is a rice wine, but I really don’t care for it. It’s not for lack of trying. In fact, last year, Kevin and I visted Osake, an artisan sake maker on Granville Island in Vancouver, CA.


Osake offered a several samples, plus a flight, for tasting. We started with the Ginjo Genshu. The use of Ginjo means that 40% of the rice was ground away and only the remaining center was used in the distilling of the sake. Genshu means the sake was undiluted and can pack a slight punch.

Osake on Granville Island, Vancouver

The Genshu was a filtered sake resulting in a clear drink that had a lot of plum sauce characteristics. This was awarded a spot in the top 100 wines of 2008 by the Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition. Overall, Kevin liked the “well-rounded flavor and sweetness.” I tolerated this one and we actually bought a bottle to take home with us. At the end of the two-week trip, with a lot of purchases already made (and taking up suitcase space), this is a pretty big compliment. At $25 for a 375 mL bottle, this was expensive but worth the price and hassle of bringing it home with us.

Next in the flight was the Ginjo Nigori. Nigori implies cloudy due to no filtration once the sake is made. This has a chewier texture, as expected in a nigori sake, and a nice long bitter finish. In comparison to other nigori sake, Kevin thought this one had a touch more ripe melon flavors and less creaminess. Once again, he enjoyed the overall experience, while I was slightly less thrilled. At $25/ bottle, this is reasonable pricing for the small batch quailty sake. Both ginjos were aged for 1 year in bottle, while the junmai were aged 2 to 3 months.

We ended with a flight of the three entry level (junmai) sakes. For junmai, 30% of the rice is milled away and no alcohol is added in the creation process. We started this flight with Junmai Nama Genshu, which was a nice entry level sake. Coming in at $35 for a 750 mL bottle, it’s a nice value. There was a lot of papaya and graininess. Kevin thought the ginjo had a more vibrant plum flavor, but this junmai would have paired well with a lean steak or a rick meat like duck.

Junmai Flight

Second in the flight was Junmai Nama which seemed to have higher acid. The slight lime flavor and very little creaminess made me think grilled shrimp would be a very nice food pairing. In comparison to the others, this was probably our least favorite, but still ranks as a nice entry. At $27 for 750 mL, the quality/value ratio is there, but not at the same level as the other options.

Finally, we tried the Junmai Nama Nigori, which had a very nice melon flavor from start to finish. This one costs $29 for 750 mL and is again a nice value for sipping. This was the “ricey-est” of all the sakes due to the nigori style and was closest to what I have tried in the past.

I’m not sure if that helps clear up any mysteries of sake. If not, I believe we have several different types in the fridge. If you’re interested, let me know and we’ll write up some tasting notes.

As for the episode, I did a little research. Honda’s first entry into the U.S. automobile market was the ’69-’70 N600, which to me looks slightly like a less-cool Mini Cooper. It wasn’t exactly a hit. However, they did have a hit in 1973 with the new Honda Civic. So I guess they really were just flirting with other ad agencies, seeing what is out there.

I was also happy to see more of Betty. You know, up until this season, I really liked – and to a degree, felt sorry for – Betty. This season she’s straining my patience. I do, however, think Henry is very good for her, always full of common sense. Roger, on the other hand, reminded me how my grandparents came to a lot of their long-held (and politically incorrect) beliefs. It’s just a specific environment, fueled by a specific war. What are your thoughts on last night’s episode?

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Posted by Michelle at 12:32 pm in Mad Men Monday, Television | Permalink | Comments ()

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