The global wine competition IWC is held in London every year, while in Japan, sake competitions have been held for over 100 years. The most famous is the Annual Japan Sake Awards (Zenkoku Shinshu Kanpyokai) held by the National Research Institute of Brewing, where experts gather and evaluate new sake from each brewery based on criteria such as appearance, aroma, and taste.
For the tasting, the judges use a cup called janome and the amber glass. Janome means “snake’s eye”, and is a white cup with a deep blue double-ring pattern inside. The white part of the cup is used to detect black impurities, while the blue part is used to check transparency. As for the amber glass, it hides the color of the sake, thereby lets the judge focus on the aroma and taste without being biased by visuals.
Evaluating the quality and tasting of sake is called kiki-zake in Japan. At Japanese Cuisine Yamazato, two types of sake-tasting sets are available; the sommelier’s selection, and your own selection, each with five different tastes. Pretend you are a judge and give a try at kiki-zake.
Japanese Cuisine Yamazato
Sommelier, Masao Okada