Sake for New Year's Day
Text: Cecilia Wong
Happy new year! Westerners like to "pop" a bottle of Champagne to celebrate new year. Japanese new year is also on January 1st, alcoholic drink is a must for the festive day as well, but in their glasses is O-toso. Japanese believe that it will help them ward off illness and bring harmony within the family throughout the coming year.
O-toso is a traditional alcoholic drink originated from China. It is a sake based beverage infused with toso, sansho (Japanese pepper), Chinese bellflower, cinnamon and other herbs. Japanese nowadays use plain Sake to replace O-toso. It is a tradition to drink it in the morning of New Year’s Day by the whole family. There is a special set of teapot and cups named Toso-ki for drinking O-toso. O-toso is poured from a lacquer ware teapot into three lacquered cups, which fit inside each other and are drunk in order, from the smallest to the largest. While the youngest in the family pick the smallest cup and save the large one for the elderly.
My choice of Sake for the New Year's Day is Shichiken Hoshi-no-kagayaki Sparkling Sake. It is made in Champagne method, which means the second fermentation is done in a bottle, and then disgorged with the removal of the frozen sediment collected in the neck of the inverted bottle. It's a combo of Japanese and Western celebration with the "popping" sound from Western culture and drinking New Year's Sake from Japanese culture.
Shichiken Hoshi-no-kagayaki Sparkling Sake is very aromatic and elegant, with some lily, melon and pear notes. The bubbles are delicate with some fruity sweetness and aromatic rice notes. The finish has a hint of bitterness and licorice, giving more complexity and texture. Grab a bottle to elevate your New Year's vibe and luck!