I went on a sake brewery tour, and I learned quite a bit….not so much about making sake, but that I have expensive taste.

The tour was all in Japanese so I’m sure I missed out on the fine details of the sake making process, but I was given a few handouts in English that gave me the highlights. Here are the basics….

  1.     Get some rice for sake making, It’s not like rice for eating
  2.     “Polish” it, cook it, add some stuff to it, then do some stuff to it
  3.     Drink it.

So, now lets focus on #3. At the end of the tour, you are given a free sample of one of the “fresh” sake varieties. I didn’t care for it….not so good. In fact, I couldn’t even finish it. Then we went to the tasting room where, for a small fee, you can choose different types to taste. I thought I just didn’t like the taste of sake, so I said “What the hell, let's try the best, most expensive one they have” thinking that if I don’t like it, then sake is just not for me. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), the most expensive one was great! Very smooth, without a harsh “alcohol” flavor, very palatable. Now it may have been the most expensive one they made, but it was by no means “expensive”. It was like $40 a bottle so it wasn’t cheap, but not too crazy.

What is crazy though, is that one of the handouts I received recommended drinking .36 liters of sake a day for good health. The paper stated that Japanese sake prevents Cancer, arteriosclerosis, dementia, osteoporosis, and is gentler on your liver than distilled spirits. (I can only imagine the lawsuits that would ensue from such claims if this were in the US.)  It stated that because sake contains over 100 kinds of nutrients that it can prevent all these illnesses. It seems to me like maybe you could just take a few vitamins instead, but I’m no doctor. Just to be safe however, they do recommend giving your liver a rest “once a week or so” and to get lots of B vitamins to metabolize the alcohol by eating soy beans, peanuts, liver, fish roe, egg yolk, and pork (no vegetables?). 

Considering that the only kind of sake I could stomach was $40 a bottle, I don’t feel like the sake “health plan” is an affordable option for me. I think I’ll stick to my multi-vitamin and the “health benefits” of red wine while still giving my liver a rest “once a week or so”.