I'm a fan of great sake, but even high-quality junmai brews can be a hard sell to my frequently skeptical dinner companions, who often find it too austere and too subtle.
With a little sparkle, though, this Hou Hou Shu turned some of those novice heads. Relatively new to Pennsylvania, this sake made by the Marumoto Brewery in Japan's Chikurin-ji Mountains has a cloudy cast, a "nigori" style that results from rice particles. Like many nigoris, it has a light, fruity sweetness, but it is the delicate fizz that gives this sake life. The bubbles are fine and soft, and lend the lightly chilled drink a refreshing edge. The sweetness is measured just enough, though, by a funky edge from the yeasty effervescence that makes Hou Hou Shu more like a complex lambic beer than merely sake soda pop.
Hou Hou Shu costs $9.99 for a 180-milliliter bottle in selected Pennsylvania wine stores (code: 010315).
- Craig LaBan