Connolly's, Purnell's & Sake
Connolly’s have become rather excited about Sake over the last year and so in September this year we are hosting our first ever Sake tasting. We are not alone in our enthusiasm for this fantastic beverage, Purnell’s Restaurant Manager Jean-Benoit has been featuring Sake on their list for quite some time:
“I once had this crazy idea whereby I wanted to serve a Sake with my wine tasting. I rang Connolly's wine merchants in Birmingham (I've known Chris since the age of 15 - we both aged pretty well since then!) and soon got me in touch with the 140 year old "Akashi Tai" company. My world suddenly changed! What an amazing discovery! The textures, complexities and flavours all of their Sake have to offer is somewhat incredible. To "understand" these rice wines you need to really be persistant and open minded. Don't think of them as wines as such - very important otherwise you'll get lost and confused-possibly disappointed. Think of them as a fermented rice liquid that will blow your mind! The Genmai which I use is full of rose petals, peach, sea salt and rocket on the nose. The palet is very much like tamarind and liquorice (as it gets more towards room temperature). What to serve it with? Easy! Oily, fresh fish (mackerel or cured/smoked salmon). It will cut through the oilyness and richness of the fish. You will be amazed as this sake will completely change the ethic of the dish. Together they work in perfect harmony. Your mouth will feel like it ought to be on a rollercoaster! I mean, seriously would!
the other Sake I enjoy is the Plum infused sake or the Shiraume Umeshu . Now, for a debutant, this is perfect! Sweet yet amazingly fresh with a lovely mineral, lingering finish. It will stick to your palet which once again, with food it's perfect. For me, only one thing will marry this. CHOCOLATE!!! I serve this with a chocolate torte with a warm chocolate mousse, mango and rosewater sorbet, mango puree and mango leather. It is to die for. But use 70% chocolate as it will need to have a slight bitterness to it. Otherwise the two together will be too similar and therefore not work. It offsets flavours. Like at Purnell's, we need texture on the plate. Same with wine matching!
With the tasting menu though, with the warm, dark chocolate mousse, I like to be even more daring and serve the aged, brown rice sake. It has so much bitter chocolate on the nose with quince on the background. Like marmite, people either love it or hate it! It is almost like an aged sherry (Amontillado Viejo -50 to 75 year old).
Basically, you have to try them to see for yourself!”
Restaurant Manager, Purnells
On Thursday 16th September in Connolly's shop on Livery Street, we shall be tasting a selection of Sake with Wakana Wakana Omija from Akashi-Tai Sake who will explain everything from how it is made to its historical and cultural background.
No previous experience or knowledge of Sake is necessary and we can't recommend this tasting enough.
Tickets are £10 per person.
The tasting will begin at 6.30pm in our Shop on Livery Street.
Also in Blog
12 months ago, shortly after the destructive reality of Covid became evident, I wrote a piece for a trade magazine (recently uploaded to our blog here…)
in which I opened with the very real sense of helplessness and fear which I am sure I shared with the vast majority of the planet. At the time, it seemed almost like staring into a black hole, knowing that you had to take the next step but blind to whatever lay below. I remember thinking (and saying to anyone prepared to listen) that this was “our generation’s war,” we’d never experienced anything approaching global conflict and in 2020 we’d reached payback time, only to be faced with an adversary that responded neither to bombs nor white flags (nor bleach). Frightened for ourselves, for our friends and families and frightened for businesses and careers that we’d spent lifetimes developing, all we could do, it seemed, was to keep washing our hands and hope for the best.
Back in spring 2020, Chris was asked to write a piece for the Wine Merchant Mag, a specialist trade publication, about his thoughts during, what was then, an unprecedented national lockdown. Published in May, we present the text to you here-
In northern Spain, some 95km south of Bilbao and bisected almost laterally by the River Ebro lies Spain’s most popular and famous wine region, a region of some 66,000 hectares of vineyards worked by 14,800 growers and dominated by some of the most celebrated names in the wine world.
It started early on a Saturday in June. I’m minded to say that it disturbed my lie-in but it was way earlier than that that my phone first pinged to announce the arrival of a new website order. (I wonder if Jeff Bezos has the same app on his phone?). Ignored it, rolled over and 5 minutes later it went again. And again. And etc, etc. Finally, before switching the thing off, curiosity got the better of me and I opened up the online shop to find a stream of orders for a wine that I fell in love with 2 years ago but that we had failed to make much headway with – Coteaux du Giennois, Terre de Silex from Clement & Florian Berthier,