Joy of Sake scheduled for July 20

By Simplicio Paragas

While many trends originate on the mainland and eventually make their way across the Pacific and then to our sunny shores, island residents can take pride in knowing that the popularity of sake first swept Hawaii, and then invaded San Francisco and New York. In 2000, many of the premium sakes began showing up in Hawaii to a point where some of them were difficult to find even in Japan. Perhaps the foremost authority on the subject locally, Chris Pearce has helped organize the “Joy of Sake” since its inception in 2001.

“The event is the public tasting promotional event that follows the U.S. National Sake Appraisal,” Pearce says. “This year, there are 360 entries from 171 breweries and from 39 different prefectures, and they’ll all be available for tasting during the Joy of Sake.”

Over a two-day period, a team of five judges from Japan and five from the U.S, including Philip Harper who is the only western toji (sake brewer) in Japan, will evaluate aroma, taste, balance and overall harmony in each entry on a scale of one to five, with one being the best and five the worst. Scores will be tabulated and sakes with the highest scores will receive gold and silver awards.

“We bring in the leading authorities on sakes,” Pearce says. “No one knows what’s going on in the background but these guys do two tastings of up to 500 different sakes over the course of two days; this is not for the feint of heart.”

This year, the event will be the first of its kind to be held in Honolulu’s newest venue, the Pier 2 Cruise Terminal in Honolulu’s Foreign Trade Zone. The evening will showcase an extensive line of premium sake styles in the junmai, ginjo, daiginjo and kimoto categories, many of which are not otherwise available in the U.S. Sake enthusiasts will also be able to sample an array of sake appetizers prepared by 15 of Hawaii’s top chefs.

“Everyone has fun,” Pearce says. “We try to make this event as accessible as possible to the public.”

Tickets: $80 in advance or $90 at the door, available by phone or online, as well as at The Sake Shop, Marukai Markets, Fujioka’s Wine Times and The Wine Stop
Call: Sake Hotline at 222.0195
Parking: Self-parking and valet

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