Selecting Japanese SakesWritten by Beau Timken
Ahhhhhh ye’ol what sakes should I get question? I hear it all of the time – in fact I live it! Basically this is the perfect topic to kill at least five birds with one stone as I get restaurants asking me to build their sake menus – I get retail stores wanting me to create their inventories – I get catering companies imploring me to make the perfect sake event – I get chefs calling for the perfect pairing – I get sake collectors wanting to build perfect sake “cellars” – and I get customers asking for a simple sake recommendation. But my favorite request of all was “How should be build the SakeSocial inventory and offerings?”
As you have been perusing the sake inventory at Sake Social you may have noticed a pretty tight offering. That’s right and of course it is temporary. Rather than blast out of the box with 250-300 sakes we wanted to gain some slow traction – in a word we wanted to get a feel for what you are drinking. Yes there is a certain amount of “push” in this game – where we “push” sakes onto you our valued customers. That is the nature of the business – we act as a filter between the producers (brewers) and the consumers (booze hounds), and this is both a blessing and a curse. Why a curse? Well basically because you are drinking what we want you to drink!
Our goal at SakeSocial is to get you to drink what you want to drink – and this takes the shape of gaining a certain understanding of what you like to drink. When I do a restaurant menu – I beat the owners and chefs up to find out what flavors and feelings they would like to exult. Why offer sake on the menu if it doesn’t go with the cuisine or “vibe” of a restaurant? Likewise, when I help a retail store I focus on the style and offering schematics of that store. For example do they like to specialize in one “style” of sake, or do they want to run the whole gambit? In this regard when an individual says “please recommend some of your favorite sakes to me,” I always nod my head yes and say the word “No!” After a puzzled laugh I then explain that recommending my favorite brews would be useless to the other person as they are drinking the sakes – not me! That is “Push Recommendations.” And that is what we are trying to avoid at SS.
By crafting a compact offering in the beginning we will be in a better position to clue in on the sakes that speak to our internet family. If we see a run on “dry” sakes then we will know to flesh out a larger offering. If we see a rush to Daiginjos then of course we will take on more high-end brews at different price points to keep this segment as happy as sushi in soy sauce. The point is we want you to “Pull” our inventory to a certain extent. This is not to say that we don’t know what we are doing – we do – better than anybody out there – but this game is about more than us telling you want to drink. It’s a union between your desires and our comprehension of the sake market (and what is available in the US.)
So the genesis of this current offering is the result of taking a ton of factors into consideration. From price point to brand recognition – from easy drinking to complexity – from availability geographically to newly introduced sakes. Our goal was to wow both the well-versed and the new sake drinkers. We wanted to pick a short list of dynamic yet very friendly brews that would open up the spectrum of sake conversation. And of course we wanted to really feature the food and sake pairings angle in an attempt to get our SS family thinking outside of the “sake must only go with sushi” paradigm. Appropriately so, a majority of our selections are very food-centric!
The Sake Social methodology is to incrementally introduce more and more sakes at a pace that is responsible and rewarding to our community. Some of you have tasted well over 100 sakes, and for some your next purchase could very well be your first sake purchase ever. We will satisfy each and every one of you without question. But our job will definitely be easier if we get your feedback, which in turn will put you in more of the sakes that you enjoy quicker. Thus I encourage you to become an integral part of our inventory making process. Review the sakes that you purchase and consume, take your own notes, send us an email about what floats your boat and what doesn’t, and lastly listen to yourself so we too can hear how sake impacts you and your palate.
Our inventory is your inventory – be a part of the process – be a part of the excellence.