Seahorses are real as is sparkling Sake – VIVA checks out a new Sake tasting and we’re in love

Emma Chadwick | 7th August 2019


What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon tasting sake and a few Japanese dishes at the Rikyu Bar, Peter Street Kitchens.


It’s part of a series of tastings they’re hosting at the hotel and it’s the first sake one I’ve heard of. Before I went, I didn’t know much about sake, just the odd sip while dining, and thanks to James, the knowledgeable bar tender, I do now and I love it.


We started off with a sparkling sake and I mean who knew? I didn’t, I had no idea this existed and it’s like when VIVA Ems discovered seahorses were real (she thought they were like mermaids), it made me very happy.


It comes in a small bottle, ideal to share with a mate or date, and is only 5% proof. It’s delicious, a wonderful alternative to other fizz and they sell it for £19 at the hotel. You can’t help but feel super sophisticated sipping on this.


That was the delicate intro to what is a great bargain at £50 per person as you get to taste five different sakes (I’m not sure that’s the plural) with some scrumptious treats thrown in from the kitchen and a cocktail at the end.


All this and James narrated the sake story full of great facts and I just love this kind of thing, it’s fascinating. I’m not going to steal all his lines as you must go and hear for yourselves but here’s a few sake gems:


  • Sake translates as alcohol
  • You must know it’s made from rice, right? But this is special, really big grained rice, around 2 cm’s long
  • It’s a misnomer that it’s served warm, it’s mostly drunk chilled or over ice 
  • It’s graded like other spirits are but to a Japanese system and this is based on how long the rice is polished and whether it’s fortified
  • It’s filtered through charcoal and the story goes this method was discovered after a disgruntled servant tried to spoil a batch by throwing the fire ashes into it


You see fascinating and there’s loads more.


Like the tea ceremony there’s a lot of respect and tradition to serving sake. You serve your guests first and this is part of the tasting.


We loved and are going to buy the Cherry Blossom sake. It’s a gorgeous smooth floral ride that is perfect for sipping.


A more masculine, probably the most like your perception of sake was served next with woody and earthier flavours that wasn’t my cup of sake, but others raved about it.


Next a warm sake, served in clay pots rather than glass, an equivalent to a mulled wine which would be fabulous in winter or on the ski slopes.


Finally, a dessert sake was just gorgeous, all caramel tones and treacly delight, better than any dessert wine I’ve tasted.


To round off the tasting James made Bellini’s with the peach pulp blended with the sparkling sake we had started with. As pretty as a picture and divine.


Find out more about the dates of the masterclasses here.


VIVA verdict: Great value for money and a lovely way to spend some time, learning, drinking and eating.


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