by Courtney Spalty from TapRm
If you read this headline and instantly pictured drinking sake at a Japanese restaurant, you’re not alone. Sake is so much more versatile than that, though. We talked to TapRm’s newest exclusive sake brand we’re psyched about, WESAKE, to find out the why’s and the how’s, and personally, we’re seeing sake in a whole new light.
1. Sake is not just that thing you get a warm shot of at a restaurant.
Last year, the founders of WESAKE were seeking out sake as a fresh alternative to sparkling wine and rosé on warm-weather days in New York. They realized how perfect a sake could be -- refreshing, delicious, and easy to drink -- all on its own. Sake is commonly associated with something served warm with or after your sushi at a Japanese restaurant, and for that reason, many people don’t think of shopping for sake in other settings and for other occasions.
According to WESAKE, the most popular kind of sake in the United States is Junmai Ginjo, which is the style that WESAKE makes. Junmai Ginjo is light, fruity, and a little fragrant. When you think about it like that, it’s so easy to see why sake is something you can drink anywhere, any time. In fact, we’re wondering why we haven’t all been drinking a lot more sake all along? (There are actually some reasons for that, keep reading!) The WESAKE founders point out how lovely a sake is on a rooftop during a sunny day, and frankly, that sounds like paradise.
2. You can eat anything with sake -- or you can drink it on its own.
Once we figure out that sake isn’t limited to pairing with sushi, it stands to reason that sake can pair with any food. If we take sake out of the narrow box it’s been in the U.S. for so long and realize we can sip it on its own in our living room, on a rooftop, or at a friend’s barbecue, then we can start thinking about all the other things we can actually eat when we’re drinking it.
Remember that WESAKE’s sake is a Junmai Ginjo, which is light, fruity, and fragrant (there won’t be a pop quiz later, but you’re paying attention if you want to seriously reinvigorate your adult beverage game). It’s also on the dry side, something WESAKE so kindly made sure of, after tons of research and interviewing potential consumers assured them that many of us want that dry finish. So, think about the many options when it comes to food pairings. We’re dreaming of all the fresh and flavorful things we love to eat in the spring and summer right now, like fruit; big, leafy salads; and grilled seafood. When winter comes back around -- which we don’t want to talk about right now, thankyouverymuch -- we can switch gears and drink our WESAKE sake with pasta, fruit tarts, or rosemary chicken (anyone else hungry now?).
3. Sake doesn’t have to be complicated -- you don’t have to know how to speak or read Japanese to enjoy a good one.
As promised, here’s why WESAKE suspects many of us haven’t been drinking a lot more sake all this time: we just don’t know much about it. Unlike wine or beer, different styles and what those styles taste like aren’t something we’re constantly exposed to at restaurants, bars, and shops. WESAKE got the idea for what its sake would look like based off of confusing trips to the liquor store, where you’re likely to find maybe 10 or 20 bottles of different sake with labels all in Japanese. Beyond that, shop managers don’t typically tend to know as much about sake as they might about beer or wine, so really, you’re essentially on your own to grab any bottle and risk loving it or hating it. When faced with that gamble, you might just shrug and return to the safety of prosecco.
That’s a sad ending to that story, though, because that means you’re missing out on how delicious and refreshing sake can be. So, WESAKE set out to make sake-shopping a much simpler mission. They put their sake in cans (already easier to take with you wherever you’re going and to drink whenever) and splashed those cans with just the info you need to know in big, bold letters. This is sake, and it’s dry, light, and fruity, period. Nay, exclamation point! Sake is suddenly much more straightforward, and buying it is suddenly much more fun.
4. Sake fits the bill for health-conscious imbibing.
Another way shopping for sake can be so much simpler than shopping for other kinds of drinks is how friendly it is for health and dietary restrictions and preferences. It’s non-GMO, it’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s kosher. You don’t have to take any chances, or spend too much time researching. Popping open a can of WESAKE is safe for so many health goals and plans -- for the simple fact that it won’t derail those goals and plans. Just knowing that makes drinking it that much more enjoyable.
Sake is free of sulfites, too, which, as WESAKE points out, makes it an easy win over wine. A chill hang without a wine headache sounds very lovely, if you ask us.
5. Sake is its own beverage category, but it’s like wine and beer in terms of versatile drinkability.
Sake is referred to as “rice wine,” because it’s made out of rice, koji, water, and yeast. It’s not actually, wine, though. Sake is its own category -- we respect its independence. Like wine and beer, sake is an entire realm of alcoholic beverages with a whole bunch of substyles. So, there’s no need to try to figure out where sake falls under a different umbrella.
In addition to being its own thing with its own substyles, though, there are more ways sake is comparable to beer and wine, and the key takeaway of those is how versatile and drinkable it is. As WESAKE has shown, sake isn’t something you have to be eating sushi at a restaurant to enjoy. It’s something you can have with Japanese food, Italian food, American food, Thai food, Moroccan food, or no food. It’s something you can have in any setting, in any season. WESAKE is helping us realize just what sake can do, and we have to say, we’re excited to learn.