The Saké Handbook by John Gauntner – review

sakeSaké has become more popular than ever in both restaurants and bars. One can find good quality saké by the bottle and made into cocktails, but there are surprisingly few books in English on the subject of saké and its production. John Gauntner is considered an authority and has penned The Saké Handbook which is an indispensible introduction and buying guide to those who have not had the advantage of a formal sommelier course.

The Saké Handbook describes the history, brewing methods and labels, encouraging the reader to buy a selection of bottles to sample and compare. There is really no substitute for actually drinking saké to discover its complexity. Its distinctive taste is unique but it is now being more readily paired with food, which is bound to be a source of fascination to anyone interested in expanding their epicurean horizons.

The Saké Sommelier Association is a body set up to promote saké throughout the world. They offer a single-day course in London every year to introduce those of us who know nothing about the drink to the world of saké. You will learn its history and the changes of production methods down the ages. Most importantly you will have the chance to sample a dozen or so different styles of saké with a tutor who will guide you through the subtle nuances of each and compare them, to give the student a comprehensive overview of Japan’s national beverage. There are longer courses available for those who want to sit an exam to become certified saké sommeliers. Future dates and times for these courses will be posted here as they are announced.

Isake is an important site for those who want to try some of the best sakés available in the UK

The Saké Handbook
Author: John Gauntner
Published by: Tuttle
ISBN 978-0-8048-3425-4

Visit John Gautner’s Saké site here


Read other articles about Japanese food, art and culture here


Book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018