For every one glass of sake poured in America, we knock back 160 glasses of wine. That proportion is changing, though. Sake imports have doubled over the past decade, with vodka the only drink that’s growing faster. Those looking for a crash course in the rice libation can find a huge one at the Joy of Sake tasting this Thursday, September 24th. Webster Hall will do the hosting, with your ticket purchase opening up three floors of partying. Some 270 premium sakes will be poured, almost half of them otherwise unavailable outside of Japan.
Your ticket also gets you appetizers from fifteen New York restaurants, of the caliber of 15 East, Bond St., Geisha, and Hung Huynh’s new Ajna Bar. There’s even a Korean ringer, Woo Lae Oak, thrown in.
Sakes are broken down into three categories, junmai, ginjo, and daiginjo. The polishing of the rice kernel is the difference: junmai loses about a third of the outer kernel, ginjo about 40%, and daiginjo up to 70%. Flavor shifts accordingly, with junmai the more robust and earthy, while highly polished daiginjo tends to be more delicate and floral. Two old-school sake methods, yamahai and kimoto, will also be on display. At Webster Hall, the varieties will be at separate tables, so newbie attendees can more easily figure out what they like best. The Joy of Sake is the largest sake-tasting event outside of Japan and a great opportunity to fill in gaps in your knowledge, or start a new obsession. Maybe the next party you throw will beat the odds and look to rice instead of grape.