Pop Open Some Sake

What to drink with our New Year’s mochi menu

Japanese New Year’s celebrations call for a cup of otoso, sake that has been steeped with a medicinal herb blend. Or you can have your sake imbued with cedar: Another tradition involves breaking open a wooden cask of sake, called taruzake. But we like the flavors of the sake to shine, so to accompany our mochi-making New Year’s celebration, we offer six food-friendly bottles recommended by sake sensei John Gauntner. And for more expert info, watch our Sake Obsessive video. Be forewarned: Though you’re not partying at the local club, sake still has a way of getting to you. So ring in the New Year right, but don’t go whining if a hangover sets in anyway. —Roxanne Webber

Nishinoseki “Champion of the West”

A slightly sweet and rich junmai from the Oita Prefecture. Gauntner says it will “tie in with the richness of mochi.”

Mukune “Root of Innocence”

Gauntner describes this junmai ginjo as clean and centered, “broad and chewy.” Works well with salty foods.

Mantensei “Star-Filled Sky”

A balanced, well-structured junmai ginjo with a hint of cocoa on the nose—Gauntner says it will “surely coax out some of the deeper flavors” in mochi-based dishes.

Chikurin “Fukamari”

This junmai is “almost dripping with the flavors of the rice from which it was brewed,” says Gauntner.

Nanbu Bijin “Southern Beauty”

A fruity and grassy junmai ginjo. Gauntner says it has a “delicately interwoven blend of tightly bound flavors” that offer good contrast to the rice in mochi.

Daishichi Kimoto

The slightly smoky and gamy flavors of this junmai will complement toasted or grilled dishes like our Norimaki Mochi. Gauntner says it’s an “exquisitely balanced” sake. Order from Astor Wines & Spirits at 212-674-7500.

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