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Sake with Cheese?
Sake and cheese is not the first thing you think of pairing together.
“During a sake tasting a couple of years ago at Obata on Sado Island, in Japan’s Niigata province, I (Peter Liem) asked head brewer Kenya Kudo what he liked to pair with his sakes. Niigata is blessed with an abundance of delicious things to eat, and I expected him to mention one of the region’s delicacies, such as wild salmon, the local red shrimp called nanban ebi, or noppe, a stew made from local vegetables. Instead, he unhesitatingly replied, ‘Cheese. Especially with digninjo.’”
With such an esoteric pairing, Peter Liem joined top sommeliers, Roger Dagorn, Bernard Sun, Hiromi Kiyama and Adrian Murcia, for an afternoon of cheese and sake tasting. In the April 2010 Wine & Spirits Issue, Peter Liem’s article (pgs 42-45) describes how specific sakes compliment the flavorful and salty characteristics of cheese. After reading, it will be hard not to want to immediately conduct a sake and cheese tasting of your own.
Peter and his team of sommeliers choose specific pairings they enjoyed the best, which are described below. The panel found that mature, hard cheeses paired well with all sake styles. They agreed that sake, having no tannins and low acidity, in general is able to pair nicely with an entire cheeseboard.
Tozai Snow Maiden Junmai Nigori, Osaka Prefecture with Morbier
Nanbu Bijin Southern Beauty Junmai Ginjo, Iwate Prefecture with Gouda and Fourme d’Ambert
Takatenjin Shrine of the Village Junmai Ginjo, Shizuoka Prefecture with Gouda and chedder
Tentaka Kuni Hawk in the Heavens Junmai, Tochigi Prefecture with chedder, Selles-sur-Cher, Robiola