Tuesday, September 28, 2010


FOLSOM, Calif. -- Premium sake is meant to be drunk cold.

Folsom isn't just a place for a Johnny Cash tune.

It's good to learn. Particularly when it involves an adult beverage.

We stopped by the Gekkeikan sake brewery in Folsom (which seems like a lovely foothill town despite Johnny Cash's unfortunate experience there) for a tour and a sample. Sake is an acquired taste, but we are committed to putting in the effort necessary. Despite what is often served in American sushi restaurants, sake is a simple, unflavored drink -- rice, water and yeast. If you are drinking something that tastes like plums or other fruit, it's either sake that's been adulterated with a syrupy flavoring or it's a fruit-flavored white wine.

And -- this, it seems, is really important -- if your sake is served warm or hot, it's either because the restaurant is serving the cheap stuff or it's fallen for an American affectation. The nice lady at Gekkeikan told us that the better the sake, the colder it should be served. She should know, right?

Sake seems a little like vodka -- the better the sake, the smoother and cleaner the taste. Sake runs closer to wine in alcohol content, about 15-20 percent (some less). Anyway, we toured the facility (nothing much was happening on this particular day), tasted six sakes and bought some of the good stuff, along with some cute sake glasses (no, you don't have to drink sake from porcelain). We asked a lot of questions and came away enlightened.

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