Say what? Japanese sake with French food? Definitely not something for the ‘traditionalist’ you might say! But with the diversity of international flavors criss-crossing each other, you might say, some “rules" can be broken!

There is a growing interest in Singapore when it comes to sake, and some more adventurous few are even trying out sake with non-Japanese cuisine.

One of the first non-Japanese cuisine that explored sake-pairing was French cuisine, featuring in top French restaurants around the globe. But it is still rather ’strange’, some may say, so here are some of our top 5 reasons why you consider picking a sake over wine when consuming your next French onion soup.
#1: Sake allows the food to shine rather than takes centerstage

Compared to wine, where people tend to pay careful attention to ensuring that the wine is able to be enjoyed to its maximum flavor, sake tends to support the food. A common saying is:
“Ryori ni jama shinai” which literally means – “sake does not interfere with the food”.

Co-founder of the Sake Export Association John Gaunter is quoted to say, “Sake doesn’t pick fights with food; sake doesn’t get in the way of food.”

This allows the food to take centerstage, while sake takes a complementary role, carrying the main dish throughout the meal

#2: Something from the ocean, something from the hills

You might be familiar with this heart-warming story of Totto-Chan, the little girl at the window who had a fun lunchbox each day which would consist something from the ocean and something from the hills.

Japanese sake was also developed based on the kinds of food and consumed in three basic regions in Japan – the mountains, the plains and the sea. Mountainous region foods usually consist of pickled and preserved foods that had salty flavors, and thus richer, heavier sake was developed. By contrast, the sake in the plains, where rice was grown and food like fruits, vegetables and meat were consumed had a slightly lighter taste. Of course, seafood and fish were mostly consumed from the coastline, and thus the sake developed was more supple and delicate.

This means that sake was developed with food in mind, and the large variety of sake flavors allows the chance to pair with many food.
#3: There are some cases where wine actually does not work well!

While wine tends to have higher concentrations of puckering compounds such as malic and tartaric acids, sake is rich in amino acids, in particular glutamate, the substance most closely associated with umami– that flavor that everyone looks for in having a good meal!

Food that has a lot of vinegar, leafy green salads and soy-tinged food are some examples where wine does not tend to work as most wine does not sync well with the acidity, since there is usually an amount of acidity in the wine already. Oysters are also another example where sake will shine better than a glass of white wine!.

# 4: Sake drinking in of itself is getting popular!

There is a growing popularity of drinking sake in our sunny shore. In 2015, 18 sake bars and restaurants opened, including Ishinomaki Grill and Sake, and more and more Singaporeans are turning to sake as a common accompaniment to their meal!

Many more food-related events are including sake in their offerings too. Look out for 1st October as it is designated as Sake Day!

#5: Because life is too short to stick to the rules

Honestly, there are hardly any rules when it comes to pairing your drinks with your food. Many of us do not have the ‘sensitive’ palettes sommeliers have, and we are more or less looking for a good time. And what more fun can it be than to go on an adventure, break out of ‘tradition’ and try some full-bodied sake with a duck confit?

With this in mind, we are proud to announce that The French Table will be breaking grounds by introducing our first sake-pairing to the table with two Hakushika Tokubetsu labels, the first - the “Hakushika Tokubetsu Junmai”, that has a strong aroma and taste to pair well with our duck confit and cassoulet very much like a red wine. The second is the “Hakushika Tokubetsu Honjyozo”, that has a luxurious taste and smooth finish to pair well with our salmon avocado salad and crabmeat pasta, very much like a white wine. These two labels will be available from 1 August at our flagship store at Waterway Point!


- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2010/10/22/food/pairing-tips-from-the-sake-experts/#.V6CO-IQ8TFI

- http://www.nymtc.com/Japanese-Sake/Learning-About-Sake_Sake-and-Food-Pairing.html#.V6CPRoQ8TFI

- http://www.splendidtable.org/story/bored-with-reds-and-whites-pair-sake-with-non-japanese-meals

- http://winezag.com/sake-not-wine-with-french-cuisine/

- http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/sake-going-with-the-grain

- http://www.four-magazine.com/articles/3030/sake-in-the-spotlight

- https://steamykitchen.com/6126-00-japanese-artisan-sake-tasting.html

Images are sourced from:

- https://flic.kr/p/nSf7vY (credits: Ryan Hyde)

- https://flic.kr/p/ePYYJ3 (credits: UCL News)

- https://flic.kr/p/4wh4vK (credits: Martin Cathrae)

- https://flic.kr/p/8VfUHc (credits: Jouko Karvonen)

- https://flic.kr/p/8VfUHc (credits: Toby Oxborrow)