Oz Clarke: ‘Challenge your perceptions of sake’

UK drinkers need to “challenge their perceptions of sake” and embrace its, often surprising, versatility wine writer Oz Clarke urged at the launch of a new campaign to promote the ancient Japanese drink this week.

(l-r) Japanese food and culture promoter Rie Yositake with wine writers Oz Clarke, Susy Atkins and Olly Smith at the launch of the JFOODO sake campaign this week.

Clarke and fellow drinks writers Olly Smith and Susy Atkins were talking at the launch of a new campaign backed by the Japanese government which is seeking to “transform the way sake is served and enjoyed in the UK”.

Organised by the Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Centre (JFOODO), the campaign will run in London with a mixture of outdoor and online advertising backed by a digital media campaign.

As well as explaining more about sake and its traditions, the campaign will also attempt to encourage exploration of the drink and “demystify” some of sake’s terminology.

Speaking at the launch at SushiSamba in the City on Tuesday 27 March, Clarke spoke of how sake has a history in Japan dating back over 2,000 years, yet in the UK clichés and misconceptions of what it was, how it should be served and drunk persisted and that this was depriving UK lovers of food and drink a whole rage of flavours and pairing possibilities.

Yoko Shuto, spokesperson for JFOODO, echoed his sentiments: “Sake is enjoying a revival, with many more enthusiasts discovering new premium brands that have appeared in the UK in recent years.

“But there are still some misconceptions around sake, including that it should only be paired with Japanese food, and that it’s best enjoyed hot, served in ceramic cups. This campaign challenges consumers to reframe their experience of sake by highlighting the many different grades and tastes of sake and how they enhance a wide range of other dishes, from Italian to classic British food.”

By way of example, the assembled guests at the event were invited to sample a small range of sake each paired with food including oysters, fried fish (and chips), prosciutto and even cheese – and some sushi of course.

For more on sake and the new campaign, click here.

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