On 4 September, the Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu, hosted “An Evening with Japanese Sake 2019”, at his residence in the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi. The event was organised to spread the charm of Japanese sake (rice wine) in India.
Sake has played a central role in Japanese life and culture for the past 2,000 years, while the knowledge and techniques involved in sake brewing spread to every corner of the country. In fact, sake is such an integral part of the Japanese diet that having some knowledge of it can add to one’s understanding of Japanese history, culture and society.
Made primarily from rice, sake is a fermented beverage. It is brewed using a micro-organism called koji, along with yeast. Its alcohol content varies from 13% to 16% in general. It takes pristine water to make sake, and brewers take advantage of the various kinds of natural water available in Japan to make only the best.
Representatives of Japan’s nine major sake breweries were present at the event in Delhi. The aim was to raise awareness of Japanese sake in India, and to initiate a dialogue between Japanese brewers and Indian importers.
In his address to the audience, Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu said, “This is the third edition of our sake event, following the great success in 2017 and 2018, and the biggest Japanese sake event ever in India. Sake has long been appreciated by Japanese people for thousands of years. It is now being increasingly appreciated in many parts of the world. It has also gradually, but significantly, increased its presence in India. When we started this event three years ago, it was difficult to find sake in India even if you wanted to enjoy it. But now, we are able to enjoy this traditional Japanese drink in many restaurants and hotels. Some sake are dry, and some are sweet. There are sparkling sake, plum wine, and Shochu, the traditional Japanese distilled alcoholic beverage as well.”
He also talked about pairing sake with Indian cuisine. “Sake is of course the perfect match for Japanese cuisine. But today, we are proposing a new, interesting pairing between Japanese sake and Indian cuisine as well. I hope people appreciate the taste of sake while savouring traditional Indian cuisine and discover that sake can be enjoyed here even on a daily basis,” he said.
The ambassador concluded with, “With Japanese cuisine receiving an increasing level of recognition and popularity in India, I sincerely hope more and more people will become interested in sake, and there will be further opportunities for them to taste sake in India. Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming here many guests from food-related industries and businesses. I hope such networks will prove to be mutually beneficial in the long run and lead to the further deepening of our ties.”
The guest of honour here was Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar of Udaipur. Also present at the venue was Sae Haruta from Japan, who is the winner of the title Miss Sake 2019. She has worked as a global ambassador to spread the greatness of sake and Japanese cultures since 2013, at home and around the world. She said, “Sake has played a central role in Japanese life and culture for the past 2,000 years since rice farming started in Japan, and its brewing process has been refined over the centuries. Sake is a symbol of Japan, since it is a blend of various Japanese cultures and traditions we inherited from our ancestors. I would like to share its greatness with you, and want to build a good relationship between us through it. I hope sake will be a bridge between India and Japan.” She also added that an India edition of Miss Sake—Miss Sake India—will soon be held.