Connolly's, Purnell's & Sake

July 22, 2010


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!”  

Jean-Benoit Burloux
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.
If you would like to book tickets call Sarah on 0121 236 9269 or email

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