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The Insider's Guide to Sake [Paperback]

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Item description for The Insider's Guide to Sake by Philip Harper...

Anyone who has ever been to Japan has probably fallen under the spell of a soothing cup of sake at one time or another. An encounter with Japan's favorite libation is bound to be memorable, yet despite its growing popularity worldwide, information on this eminently drinkable beverage remains scarce.
Written by a British expatriate who has spent more than seven years brewing sake in the exacting traditional method, The Insider's Guide to Sake is the consummate introductory handbook. It unravels the history and intricacies of this exotic drink, and provides an extensive list of restaurants and retail outlets in Japan, the United States, and Europe where the beverage in all its variety can be found. In The Guide you will discover over 100 sakes for all tastes and pocketbooks, tips for beginners and connoisseurs alike, and a knowledgeable explanation of the brew-master's skills. Labels and specs for each selected sake are displayed in a concise, easy-to-follow format.
Whether you are a gourmet, a wine lover, or just enjoy the occasional thirst-quencher, The Insider's Guide to Sake offers a fascinating, broad-ranging introduction to this compelling refreshment-in a refreshingly compelling manner.
* firsthand, authoritative information
* slim, portable size (to use at restaurants or retailers)
* slips easily into bag, pack, or briefcase
* handy "cheat sheet" helps you select the best sake
* all types of sake discussed
* labels deciphered
* sake-tasting tips
* regional sake map
* sake sites on the Web

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Item Specifications...

Pages   248
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 4" Height: 7.25"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 1998
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770020767  
ISBN13  9784770020765  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Drinks & Beverages > Spirits
2Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Drinks & Beverages
3Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > General
4Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Regional & International > Asian > Japanese

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Insider's Guide to Sake?

Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Where Afraid to Ask About Sake  Dec 21, 2007
Not only is this a very readable book about Japanese sake, but it is written by an American who moved to Japan and entered the closed world of kura-bito (sake brewers) and became one himself. Harper describes the history of sake, how it is made, where to buy it, and what to buy. And what is equally helpful is that it is in a vest-pocket-sized book that you can carry with you when traveling, going to a restaurant or shopping for sake. This book is for the sake connoisseur and novice alike. The process of making sake is more complex than wine (it requires 2 microorganisms, not just yeast). Moreover, through all the variations of rice processing, fermentation, types of clarification, aging, fortification, there is a large array of sake classification, whose terms are all in Japanese. Harper breaks through the fog and clearly lays out the differences among all these. He also describes the different flavor profiles that goes with each one. Other useful sections include a large listing of recommended sakes with their labels reproduced for easier recognition, lists of restaurants in the US and Japan, retailers in the US and Japan, major producers, and web links. All in under 250 pages. This is one of the most useful books on sake you can buy.
One Day I Will Be a Snob  Jan 25, 2004
Several months ago I went to Shiki's, a Japanese restaurant in Seattle with a group of friends. It was a comfortable night and I thought I'd get some Sake. The Sake came out and I poured some for myself and my friends and it was vile. Absolute undrinkable swill.

My friends looked at me like I was from another planet. "This is what Sake tastes like," they said. "No, it is not." I replied. Luckily, Shiki's has a small, but well chosen, selection of specialty Sakes. I selected one of those and when they brought it over the table could hardly believe the difference.

I knew there was a difference, but I had no idea why. I just knew that when I was in Tokyo I was given something very different than the evil liquid I was first served.

I decided at that point that I would become a Sake snob. I figured that in this age of ubiquitous information it would be easy to find resources on Sake and that it would still be a rarity. Becoming a Sake snob would add to my overall mystique and propel me from the merely interesting person I was into the dauntingly magnificent fellow I am today.

Philip Harper's small book was my propellant. The book is very short ... in fact most of it is lists of Sakes, restaurants and retail outlets world wide. The book takes you through a quick history of the art of making Sake, how to taste Sake, how to read a Sake bottle label so you know what you are buys, and what all the different terms mean.

I looked at several other books and they didn't seem to cover things as well or as well-worded. According to himself, at any rate, Mr. Harper is the first gaijin to really work his way into the Sake world.

I don't think I've quite made myself a Sake snob. But I can read the bottle, and am working my way slowly through the various Sakes out there. I am lucky in that Seattle has many to choose from. Apparently there are thousands.

And at least I can tell people the difference between the first Sake we ordered at Shiki's (which was Sanzoshu - sort of like the Thunderbird of Sake) and the good stuff (Dai Junmai Ginjo). I can appear the snob and talk about rice polishing and brewers alcohol and so forth. So I can be pretentious, at least, as I work up to being a true snob.

Please don't heat the sake!  Sep 12, 2002
I am glad that Philip Harper wrote "The Insider's Guide to Sake." What you have here in this little book is everything a person needs to begin their exploration into the inscrutable world of Sake.

Like many alcohols, Sake is a beverage of wildly variant qualities. Some is made to be cheap and get you drunk quick, some is made to savor and enjoy. Of course, approaching a Sake label with little Japanese ability makes it difficult to discern the difference. Even if the label is translated, the meaning is not readily clear. What makes a good Sake? What qualities should I be looking for?

This books takes that exact frame of mind, leading the novice through all stages of Sake production from rice growing to brewing methods, both traditional and modern. Sake is quality-graded by the government, and by the end of this book a drinker will be able to choose with confidence between a Junmaishu, a Hinjozu or the ultra-sake Daiginjo.

A few other benefits of this guide are a sake alphabet, with facts and useful tidbits of information spread throughout the book in alphabet format. The tasting guide offers a brief glance at a hundred or so of the available 1,000 plus Sakes. I found this to be a very useful starting place, allowing me to make an informed choice at the Sake store. (The book also shows you how to recognize a quality Sake seller. a very useful piece of information.) Depending on where you live, the sake restaurant guide is useful.

All in all, this book picked my interest in sake and transformed my casual curiosity into a full-blown investigation. Don't go into a sake shop without it!

Best Guide to Sake Out There  Jun 23, 2000
As a lover of great sake but one who did not know much about how to go about choosing it, I found this book to be very informative and entertaining at the same time. Entertaining in that this is a true "insider's guide" since the author is the only foreigner that I have heard of who has worked in a traditional sake brewery for an extended amount of time. The insights contained in this book can be found nowhere else in the English language as far as I know.

Sake, like wine, comes in many forms and can be an aquired taste. Really good sake served cold (were talking really expensive stuff) can be one of the best tasting drinks you will ever experience. Please don't judge the merits of sake by that cheap hot stuff thats often served in inexpensive Japanese restaurants.

I recommend this book for those even with a passing interest in sake - wherever you currently reside. For foreigners currently living in Japan, the book will encourage you to taste various sake available only in Japan (as you should while you are there). For those outside Japan, the book contains a very comprehensive guide to restaurants and stores that serve/sell premium sake.

Finally, I should also mention that "The Insider's Guide to Sake" is much better than other books you will find on the subject, including "The Book of Sake". It is an easy read, and is thin enough to fit in your pocket (OK, a large pocket) so that you can take it with you to the local liquor store.

Useful restaurant and sake guides, fascinating bkgd info  Aug 7, 1998
The book includes two "sampler" guides: a sampler of 100-odd premium sakes (chosen somewhat arbitrarily, it seems, from the produce of the 1500-odd sake breweries in Japan), and a sampler of restaurants and bars in all large Japanese cities and a few large US and European cities where one can try premium sake. Of the two samplers, I think the second may be more useful. The average restaurant in Japan serves two kinds of sake: cold, and hot. This sampler helps those of us in search of real sake to find places to drink it -- an extremely useful piece of information.

The background information on sake brewing was fascinating, especially to a home brewer; I didn't put it down 'til I was done.


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