Pairing wine with cheese is nothing new, but what about drinking Japanese sake with your favourite fromage? It might seem a bit unusual because we tend to sip sake when we’re having Japanese food, but sake sommelier Yoshito Suzuki tells us that there are really no hard rules when it comes to this spirit. That’s because sake pairs fairly well with a wide range of foods. In fact, it rarely clashes with anything. A flowery, fragrant sake will complement lighter tastes such as the natural sweetness of fish and shellfish. A bolder sake, meanwhile, can stand up to more pungent flavour profiles, such as strong red meats or spicy dishes.
To put this to a test — and to indulge your love of cheese — join Suzuki at Japanese sake bar Orihara Shoten Bangkok this upcoming Thursday 29 June, when local delicatessen VIVIN and Orihara Shoten are teaming up to present an exciting cheese and sake pairing event. There’s probably no better way to wrap up the working day than with some top sakes and fine cheeses.
For this event, VIVIN is featuring six of their signature farmhouse cheeses, each boasting an exceptional flavour profile and exquisite texture. The selection includes five different types of goat cheeses and one cow’s milk cheese. Here are some of our favourite pairings:
The wasabise, a creamy young cheese which is flavoured with Japanese horseradish wasabi, is easily one of the highlights. With a very subtle zing of wasabi, it’s paired with Bijofu Tokubetsu Honjozo. Named tokubetsu — which literally means “special” in Japanese — this sake is unique for its 60% rice polishing, as opposed to the usual 70% polishing for a honjozo. The fresh and fragrant qualities of this one-time pasteurised sake act as a platform for the delicate wasabi flavours.
Soft, rich and pungent, the fresh garlic and herbs goat cheese is paired with a Kirinzan Honjozo Black. Originated from Niigata, the honjozo is dry, light, and crisp with mellow cherry-blossom aromas. Its dryness and light finish cut the heftiness of this natural goat cheese, as well as enhancing its earthy and savoury notes.
A rare sake of its kind, X3 is a junmai — sake made from only rice, water, yeast and koji — that uses three times more koji than the usual amount. (Koji is the magical mould that creates enzymes which convert starches into sugars.) As a result of all that extra koji goodness, X3 has a distinctively subtle sweetness that helps draw out this pepper-crusted goat cheese’s umami quality and spiciness.
The Manatsuru Miu Rose is a rich, floral sake that boasts a cherry-blossom-pink colour. Its fresh fragrance softens the sharpness of this ash-ripened goat cheese, as well as the slight bitterness of the vegetable ash. On the other hand, petit blanc is a traditional artisan goat cheese that has a sweet earthy softness to it. The cheese’s delicious creaminess imbues the palate and pairs beautifully with the clean flavours of Eiko Fuji Koketsu Junmai Ginjo.
The only cow’s milk cheese on offer, Molène has an unbelievable milky-sweet flavour and soft, luxurious texture. This rich, velvety cheese is paired with Kishu Hachimitsu Umeshu, a honey-flavoured plum wine. Made in Kishu, a place best known for its plums, the honeyed wine has a lovely, luscious mouthfeel that melds harmoniously with the cow’s milk cheese’s creaminess.
Orihara Shoten Bangkok, 18 Park Lane, Sukhumvit Soi 63 Bangkok, +66 2 382 0131
VIVIN Mini Boutique, Gourmet Market at EmQuartier G Floor, Bangkok, +66 2 622 5662