Past events

Introduction to Sake: Printouts

Introduction to Sake workshop

Want to explore sake but don’t know where to start?

In this workshop, you’ll learn about the different classes and styles so you can select sake with confidence, either to drink by itself or to pair with food.

You’ll also try the classes and styles in two tasting sessions – the perfect chance to cement what you’ve just learned through experience and maybe find a new favourite!

Please click here to buy a gift voucher for the workshop.

WHEN: Wednesday evenings every second month,19:00 – around 21:30, or book a Private Introduction to Sake workshop

WHERE: MAME 2 Holbeinstrasse, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland. Seefeld area, short walk from Stadelhofen station or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Find out what sake is – and what it is not
  • Learn how raw materials, brewing, processing and ageing affect flavour profile and price
  • Sample a range of sake selected to give an overview of the different classes and types
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group guided by an expert
  • Leave with an understanding of how to select, store, pair and serve sake!

The workshop will cover:

  • The legal classifications for sake and what they can tell you about aroma and flavour
  • Tasting with four examples of the legal classifications
  • Identifying aromas and flavours and writing tasting notes
  • How processing and ageing create a range of styles
  • Tasting with four different styles
  • Storing and serving sake, including what to serve it in and at what temperature
  • How to pair sake with food – including which sake goes with chocolate!
  • Choosing the best places to buy or order sake
  • Plus ask any questions you have in a relaxed small group setting

BONUSES!

  • Take home a list of the sake you tried
  • List of where to drink sake in Zürich and where to buy locally and online
  • Free Pocket Guide with class and style names in Japanese and English for future reference
Abe and Tanaka of Otone Shuzo, Salon du Sake 2022

Meet the brewer! Abe-san from Otone Shuzo

 Join me for this very special event where we will have a Japanese sake brewer to introduce his sake, taste them with us and answer all your questions!

The tiny but mighty Otone Shuzo is in Numata in Gunma Prefecture, nestled in the mountains in the middle of Japan’s main island. It is one of just four breweries covered by the Tone-Numata Geographical Indication, which recognises the unique geological, climate and human factors that characterise the region’s sake. Tsunenori Abe runs his miniature brewery with just two part-time brewers, producing extremely food-friendly sake that is complex, satisfying and also easy to drink! He’ll be joined by trainee brewer and former Miss Sake Nagasaki, Sayuri Tanaka, who works part-time at the brewery, and they will present some of their main products, such as the Sadaijin label, as well as some very special sake supplied for the event.

Links:

WHEN: Wednesday 8 May 2024, 19:30 – around 21:30

WHERE: MAME 2, Seefeldstrasse 19, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (entrance on Holbeinstrasse). Short walk from Stadelhofen station, or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Learn about the geography, geology, climate and culture of the Tone-Numata region and how these factors affect the sake produced there
  • Get an overview of sake production in a very small Japanese brewery
  • Learn about the Tone-Numata Geographical Indication (GI)
  • Taste a selection of sake from the brewery
  • Have the chance to ask an experienced master brewer anything about sake
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group with plenty of time to explore, discover and ask questions!
Photo of the moto-suri or mash-grinding process from Daishichi Shuzo

Kimoto workshop

Kimoto is an old sake starter, established around the 1700s, which relies on ambient bacteria to create a safe environment for yeast to multiply and resist contamination by other microorganisms – and gain lots of flavour in the process!

Following on from the starters workshop (which covered bodaimoto/mizumoto “water starter”, kimoto and its derivative yamahai) this workshop will look at further variations within kimoto itself – what happens when you age it? Brew with ambient yeast? Or barely polish the rice? Come and find out!

WHEN: Wednesday 10 April 2024, 19:00 (7 pm) – around 21:00-21:30 (9-9:30 pm)

WHERE: MAME 2, Seefeldstrasse 19, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (entrance on Holbeinstrasse). Short walk from Stadelhofen station, or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Go back over the starter methods and how they affect the flavour profile of a sake
  • Talk about how one variation from the standard modern process – using the kimoto starter – can be further varied by ageing and polishing number
  • Learn about how different sake rice varieties interact with kimoto
  • Discover how making sake with a lot of the rice grain affects flavour
  • Taste rare, limited edition sake to expand your understanding of kimoto and ageing
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group with plenty of time to explore, discover and ask questions!

Description

Cheese, chocolate… what else could go with sake?
Tea!

Bartender and tea sommelier Nico Colic of Hedonisms has selected four black teas from Taiwan, China and India to pair with four very different sake – simple, complex, sweet, savoury, fruity. Join us to taste all of them and see how they can complement each other!

WHEN: Friday 15 March 2024, 18:00 – around 20:00, part of the Konomi festival of Japanese flavour in Basel

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Hear about small-scale producers of sake and tea, the challenges they face and why what they make is different from the mass market
  • Have a brief introduction to the sake and teas from China, Taiwan and India
  • Talk about – and taste! – flavour profiles for different teas, and different processing and brewing methods for sake
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group with plenty of time to explore, discover and ask questions.
Japan Air Self-Defense Force drone search operation at Wajima morning market, showing buildings damaged and demolished by the Jan 1 2024 earthquake.

Fundraising event for Ishikawa Prefecture

You are probably aware that a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula on the north-west coast of Japan on 1 January 2024, followed by a huge number of aftershocks. There was widespread and severe damage all over the peninsula, which is part of Ishikawa Prefecture, as well as to the island of Sado which faces Noto Peninsula, and coastal regions of Ishikawa Prefecture (including the city of Kanazawa), Toyama Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture. Many sake breweries were also affected, and this event will raise money for donation to the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, the national organisation that unites brewers and distillers across Japan.

(Photo from the Japan Ministry of DefenSe/Japan Air Self-Defense Force, “Air Self-Defense Force drone search operation at Wajima Asaichi” / 防衛省・自衛隊, CC 表示 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=143625135による)

WHEN: Wednesday 7 February 2024, 19:00 – around 21:00-21:30

WHERE: MAME 2, Seefeldstrasse 19, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (entrance on Holbeinstrasse). Short walk from Stadelhofen station, or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 50.00 *** Full ticket price will be donated to the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association fund to restore breweries and distilleries damaged by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake that hit on New Year’s Day 2024. All costs will be covered by Discover Sake. ***

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Learn about the geography, geology, climate and culture of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama Prefectures and how these factors affect the sake produced there
  • Get an overview of sake production in the prefectures (number and size of breweries, typical styles, food pairing, etc.)
  • Learn about the Noto Toji, one of the most famous and influential guilds of master brewers
  • Taste a selection of sake from several Ishikawa breweries
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group with plenty of time to explore, discover and ask questions!

More information on the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association fund for affected brewery/distillery members (English).

Kyodo News article on damage to the sake breweries on the Noto Peninsula (English).

Old sake starter workshop

Let’s go back in time, and discover sake as it was then! Today, the brewing process is well understood, and aspiring sake brewers get degrees in fermentation science from the prestigious Tokyo University of Agriculture. But what about way back when no-one knew what kōji or yeast were?
Brewers still managed to make sake, but more complex and less controlled methods. These are being rediscovered today as a way for breweries to reconnect with their past and bring new flavours and dimensions to their sake. Join me to experience some sake “prototypes” and their modern interpretations.

WHEN: Wednesday 29 March 2023, 19:00 – around 21:00-21:30

WHERE: MAME 2, Seefeldstrasse 19, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (entrance on Holbeinstrasse). Short walk from Stadelhofen station, or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 60.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Learn about ancient and early modern sake starter methods, dating up to the early 1900s
  • See how microbes play an even greater part in old starter methods
  • Taste a variety of sake made by breweries that have gone back to old brewing methods, including those used in Buddhist temples as early as the 1500s
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group with plenty of time to explore, discover and ask questions!

Tasting of sake from Imada Shuzō, Akitsu, Hiroshima Prefecture

This tasting features a range of sake from the small Imada brewery, makers of the labels Fukucho and Seafood. The brewery is located in the small town of Akitsu, on the coast of Japan’s inland sea. Their sake includes some made with an heirloom rice variety that the brewery brought back into production, a sake developed specially to go with the abundant local seafood, and a very special bottle of a limited edition sake made by traditional methods – a variation of a pre-1900s kimoto yeast starter and brewed in a wooden barrel, both of which give sake much greater depth and complexity.
Imada Shuzō is very unusual in having a woman master brewer and a non-Japanese brewer, and produces both extremely modern and traditional styles of sake. Read more about the brewery here!

WHEN: Wednesday 22 June 2022, 19:00 – around 21:00-21:30

WHERE: MAME 2, Seefeldstrasse 19, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (entrance on Holbeinstrasse). Short walk from Stadelhofen station, or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 70.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Hear about the small Imada brewery located on the coast of Japan’s Inland Sea
  • Briefly discuss the shape of the sake industry – company size, diversity, brewing operations, etc.
  • Talk about – and taste! – sake made from different rice varieties, including a very rare heirloom variety, and a very special sake brewed in a traditional wooden tank and using a yeast starter method that was largely abandoned in the early 1900s
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group with plenty of time to explore, discover and ask questions!

Aged sake tasting

Curious about what ageing does to sake? Or already tried it and know you like it?

Join me for a relaxed evening comparing and contrasting a range of different aged sake, enjoying their colours, aromas and flavours while learning about how the ageing process works and what influences it, plus talking about possible food pairings and opportunities to serve or gift it.

WHEN: Wednesday 23 February 2022, 19:00 – around 21:00

WHERE: MAME 2, Seefeldstr. 19, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland, entrance on Holbeinstr. Short walk from Stadelhofen station, or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 75.00

LANGUAGE: English

 

European sake tasting

So far, all the Discover Sake sessions have focused on sake brewed in Japan, but it’s also brewed all over the world!

There are dozens of breweries in north America, but also a few in Europe: London, Cambridge, Paris, Bourgogne, Catalonia. This session brings you a selection of brews from Kanpai in London, Wakaze in Paris and Yamasake in Switzerland. These newer breweries are not bound by Japanese regulations and brew both classic sake and experimental ones incorporating botanicals and other ingredients.

WHEN: Wednesday 14 October 2020, 19:00 – around 22:00

WHERE: MAME 2 Holbeinstrasse, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland. Seefeld area, short walk from Stadelhofen station or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Learn about the spread of sake brewing around the world
  • See how non-Japanese breweries are experimenting with ingredients not allowed under Japanese regulations
  • Sample sake from Wakaze in Paris, Kanpai in London and Yamasake in Switzerland

Brewery focus: Kosaka Shuzo

Join me on a deep dive into the sake of one brewery!

This time it’s the Kosaka brewery, located in the beautiful mountains of Gifu Prefecture. The tasting will cover four sake of the same class – all junmai ginjō – brewed with different rice varieties or processed in different ways, but always delicious, slightly effervescent and just fun to drink!

WHEN: Thursday 13 August 2020, 19:00 – around 22:00

WHERE: MAME 2 Holbeinstrasse, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland. Seefeld area, short walk from Stadelhofen station or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Learn about the Kosaka Brewery in Mino, Gifu Prefecture
  • Enjoy tasting and comparing four different sake from the same brewery
  • Discuss different rice varieties and their impact on flavour
  • Discuss sake yeast and its impact on aroma
  • Discuss processing (e.g. pasteurisation and fining) and its effect on flavour
  • List of the sake you tried and where to buy it in Zurich or online

 

Sake & single origin chocolate pairing

Like sake? Love chocolate? Come and see how well they can go together!

Pairing chocolate and sake can be tricky, especially hard bar chocolate with complex flavours. So for this event I’ve invited chocolate specialist Andrea Thurner of the small batch project to bring her extensive knowledge to bear on the problem! After much trial and error, we’re proud to present five wonderful sake with five amazing chocolate bars to show you just how good these two great things can be together.

WHEN: Tuesday 9 February 2020, 19:00 – around 21:00/21:30

WHERE: MAME 2, Seefeldstr 19, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland. Entrance on Holbeinstr! Seefeld area, short walk from Stadelhofen station or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.

PRICE: CHF 70.00

LANGUAGE: English

You will:

  • Get a brief introduction to sake and craft chocolate
  • Hear about small-scale producers of sake and chocolate and the challenges they face
  • Talk about – and taste! – flavour profiles from different origins for chocolate and different processing and brewing methods for sake
  • Have fun in a small, friendly group with plenty of time to explore, discover and ask questions.

 

Sake social: Hot and cold

WHEN: Thursday 6 February 2020, 19:00 – around 21:00

WHERE: MAME 2, Holbeinstrasse 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (Seefeld area, short walk from Stadelhofen station or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.)

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

Some people have only ever had sake heated, others will tell you never to heat it, or that any heated sake is poor quality. What’s really going on?

This is a good example of how the complexity of sake makes it difficult to have any hard rules, but if you’re willing to gather some more information then you’ll be able to tell which sake are suited to heating, or not.

Using three sake with mid-to-low milling ratios, and rarer traditional yeast starters, we’ll taste our way through some great candidates for heating and figure out why they work at higher temperatures – and which sake won’t.

The tasting will feature:

* Miyake Shinriki kimoto muroka genshu, from the Senpuku brewery in Hiroshima Prefecture, made with the old kimoto starter method and Shinriki rice polished to just 85%. The sake is also undiluted from its original strength and not charcoal filtered.

* Seikyō junmai ginjō from the Nakao brewery, also in Hiroshima Prefecture. It’s made with Omachi rice milled to a relatively high 55% (ginjō must be milled to at least 60%) but is also suited to heating.

Denshō Yamahai Junmai from the Suehiro Brewery in Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture. Yamahai is another old starter method, related to but different from kimoto.

This gives us a nice range of milling ratios and yeast starters to learn about!

 

 

Sake brewery spotlight: Lady of the Castle

WHEN: Thursday 14 November 2019, 19:00 – around 21:00

WHERE: MAME 2, Holbeinstrasse 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (Seefeld area, short walk from Stadelhofen station or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.)

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

This social session focuses on one brewery, tasting a range of different sake from the same producer – the Iwamura Brewery, makers of the label Lady of the Castle among others.

 We’ll have five sake from Iwamura: 

* Lady of the Castle daiginjo

* Lady of the Castle junmai ginjo

* Lady of the Castle extra dry junmai

* Ena no Homare hiya genshu

Find out more about the brewery on their site: Iwamura Brewery Co., Ltd. (English)

 

 

Fresh and Fruity Sake!

WHEN: Thursday 12 September 2019, 19:00 – around 21:00

WHERE: MAME 2 Holbeinstrasse, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland (Seefeld area, short walk from Stadelhofen station or stops Opernhaus/Kreuzstrasse on tram lines 2 and 4.)

PRICE: CHF 50.00

LANGUAGE: English

Sake is wonderful just as it is, but the Japanese also have a tradition of adding fruit to it to create fresh, flavourful drinks. The most well-known is ume-shu, “plum wine”, but there are many other variations as well.

Some are sweet, others tart, some low in alcohol, some aged – but all great served cold and perfect for a summer evening! Please join me to sample a range of sake with a little added something.