January 23, 2015
In our shop we quote a series of ‘Master Specs’ for all our sake. These are not special Tengu Sake Master Specs in so much as we didn’t come up with the system, these are metrics given by most brewers. As the name suggest you kind of have to be an expert to really understand what they mean and how they’ll affect you experience. I can’t fully explain them all here but what I can give you is an insight into what they mean, future blog entries will expand (under master specs tag), and tastings I host will help your understanding so do pop along!
- ABV: alcohol content as a percentage, by volume. Ok, this one isn’t revelatory but it can have an impact on you choices for food pairings.
- Polishing rate: complicated! This is covered on the types of sake page.
- SMV: The Sake Metre Value (or nihonshu-do in Japanese) gives you a very rough indication of the relative dryness of sweetness of a sake. It generally ranges from -6 to about +8 (but most are -2 to +4), with negative numbers being sweet and positive, dry; anything outside of that is considered extreme (but not unpleasant, just unusual). +2 is about neutral for the western palate.
- Acidity-metre: high acidity will make a sake feel drier (which is one of the many reasons the SMV in isolation is a poor indicator of dry/sweet). Acidity also has the affect of spreading flavour around the mouth (both of the sake and the food it is paired with). Temperature affects your perception of acidity, and acidity is important when considering which foods to pair. The scale is arbitrary and generally ranges from 0.7 to 2.5-ish; anything out of these ranges is quite extreme.
- Amino-metre: is a rough measure of the amount of amino acids present in a sake. Certain amino acids give the umami flavour (see the pairing with food page) and so the amino-metre is an indicator of a sake‘s umami. The scale is again arbitrary and generally runs from 0.7 to 1.7, anything above that very full of umami flavour.
- Rice: obviously the rice chosen to make a sake (there are many different varieties) affects the flavour. I will talk about rice types in future posts under the ‘rice’ tag.
The last thing I want is for these specs to be intimidating. Sake is a very involved subject and the rabbit-hole goes very deep! These specs are design for those that already know a lot about sake. However, the more you drink it and the more you learn about it (this blog is a good place to start) the more you’ll begin to understand what these stats mean.