Majestic Wine aims to "make rice nice" with new sake range

Majestic Wine has launched a range of sakes in a bid “make rice nice for wine drinkers who may be stuck in Merlot and Sauvignon ruts”.

The retailer is selling more and more craft beer per year and its craft spirits range has also gained praise from suppliers as it diversifies away from wine.

Now it has launched three different sakes, from bone-dry to sweet, in an effort to capitalise on Brits’ growing fondness for Japanese culture.

Buyer Beth Pearce said: “We’ll succeed if we can help sake become as acceptable in the high street as Wagamama and Itsu, with shoppers returning home with a bottle of sake without having their tastes questioned.

“A whole generation is growing up with Japanese entertainment, cuisine and beer so there’s clearly a sake-shaped hole in the market that we will try to fill.”

The retailer has been offering its store teams specialist training throughout the summer and they will host tastings for customers across the UK.

They hope to break down “the cultural and language barriers which have held back sake’s appeal”.

“We’re running some intensive training for store teams, so they feel confident talking to the public about what is still a relatively niche drink,” said Pearce. “Hopefully by getting some bottles open, explaining what makes it such a fabulous drink, and running tastings in our stores we can help to bring a whole new generation onto sake.”

Sake has been brewed using rice in Japan for millennia and it is becoming increasingly popular in export markets. However, as a category in the UK it is tiny, although the backing of Majestic could help change all that.

These are the three sakes it will stock:

Daiginjo Genshu Sake

Akashi Sake Brewery is a small artisanal producer based in Akashi City, a fishing town in Western Japan. It has been brewing for 150 years. This sake has banana, honey and floral aromas, and a slight hint of white pepper. Bright acidity and great with food. Drink within five days of opening. A great alternative to dry sherry or crisp dry white wines.

Honjozo Tokubetsu Sake Wine

Tokubetsu is an official term meaning special. To be labelled as Tokubetsu, the sake must be made in a better way than the standard sake from that brewery. In this case, a special Hyogo produced rice variety called Gohyakumangoku is used, as well as a finer milling to create a complex sake with tropical fruit flavours. Drink within five days of opening and serve cold or slightly warmed. A great alternative to fuller bodied aromatic whites like Viognier.

Ginjo Umeshu Sake

A sweet style of sake with rich prune and almond flavours. Dry fruit, date, cherry and plum fruit with fantastic acidity to work well with desserts or a cheese board. A great alternative to sherry or dessert wine. Serve slightly chilled.

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