Working for two years at Nihonbashi Takashimaya’s depachika was an education. I was in the saké department. In Japanese saké refers not only to nihonshu, but to all alcoholic beverages. While I was hired as a sommelier and my chief responsibility was wine, I also had to be able to sell saké, shōchū, beer, and spirits. I learned so much about retailing in Japan, from packaging to gift-giving. One of the big take-aways was marketing of food.
Marketing of alcoholic beverages in Japan sometimes veers away from the traditional to offer unique ideas on pairing food with beverages. So it was no surprise when my Japanese cousin gave me this bottle of saké from Kobe from Sakura Masamune. The saké is called Bonds Well with Beef and is packaged in a wine bottle. Kobe is famous for its wagyū marbled beef. It’s a fun concept and especially smart for the saké brewery to do this as there are many restaurants in their area where this would stand out on a beverage list.
I was curious to see if this saké would actually pair well with a steak. We usually don’t eat wagyū at home as it’s better to leave that to restaurants that specialize in it, like Ginza Dons de la Nature. At home we usually have a US steak simply cooked in a cast iron pan.
The saké did surprisingly well with the steak, better than I had imagined. Sakura Masamune is a reputable brewery with a rich history of over 400 years. The rice is Yamada Nishiki, one of the most popular rice varietals for making saké. It was brewed in the kimoto method which is a traditional style that produces richer saké. The saké was slightly dry and had a nice acidity, which was great for steak. I imagine it would have been even better with a fatty wagyū.
In Tokyo I’ve seen this saké sold at some department stores. Best to call ahead if you want to buy this to make sure it is in stock. At home we usually drink wine with steak, but it is fun to add this into the mix every now and then.
Sakura Masamune Bonds Well with Beef – technical details in English