Sauternes vs. sake – a Christmas duel

French luxury on the one hand, Japanese luxury on the other. Sauternes are made from botrytised grapes, a true little miracle of nature capable of producing a so-called noble rot, under very specific conditions of humidity and sunlight. Once installed on the grape berries, the botrytis absorbs water and concentrates the sugars, allowing, after harvesting by successive sorting of overripe grapes, to obtain one of the greatest sweet wines in the world. For sakes, known in Japan for 2,000 years, it is a unique know-how that transforms rice into fermented drinks, a kind of non-carbonated beers to which water from local sources brings the signature of the land.

And in the glass? Two cultures of taste with accomplished refinement and yet at odds. “In the world of wine, we have a very important criterion that becomes a flaw when tasting sake … the persistence in the mouth! A good sake is a short and dazzling finish… we look for the crystalline side of the water ”, laughs Xavier Thuizat, head sommelier at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, one of the greatest French specialists and international subjects.

Surprising agreements

Alongside traditional sakes, relatively opulent, with notes of cereals, damp earth and undergrowth, modern sakes are characterized by the delicacy of their aromas. Although dry, all offer a relative sensation of softness and roundness, more present if the sake is served hot, and a character called “umami”, the latest trendy flavor among tasters who can be defined by the term “tasty”. . “Classic” Sauternes are wines of marked sweetness and aromas of candied fruit, honey and spices, capable of aging for a very long time. Today they coexist with fresher and lighter-sugar vintages, which evoke exotic fruits and citrus fruits and are drunk rather young.

Sauternes and sakes offer one of the widest palettes of pairings, often surprising and renewing the genre. It is even possible to reverse the roles at Christmas, by serving sake with semi-cooked foie gras and Sauternes on a gravlax of salmon and pomelo. Unexpected, we told you!

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