Listen up, philistines. If you do that sake bomb, know this–Tiffany Dawn Soto will be silently judging you from afar. The 30-year-old Four Seasons Baltimore Beverage Manager with fiery tresses and a nose for sake has beaten out experienced Japanese men twice her age at tasting the stuff, becoming the first female Westerner to be kikzake-shi, which in Japanese means she f–king knows what she’s talking about.
“Cold not hot, sipped not shot, and if it’s dropped in a beer, I’m calling security,” she says only half-jokingly.
So pay close attention as Soto gives you tips on how not to sound like a ignorant douchebag when drinking sake. You’ve been schooled:
- Sake is pronounced “sah-kay,” not Anna Paquin’s character “soo-kee”on True Blood.
- Sake is not a rice wine, beer or a spirit! It’s a naturally-fermented alcoholic beverage from Japan.
- Don’t ever tell your date to “sake to me.”
- Sake is made of four things–rice, water, yeast and a mold called koji-kin.
Junmai means the sake is pure, with no distilled alcohol added.
- That hot sake you drink with bad happy hour sushi? Is crap.
- The key to great sake lies in the shinpaku, the soft center of the rice grain. At least 30% of the grain is milled away to reveal this magical core.
- Sake is brewed in a method similar to beer.
- Expect an alcohol content of 15-16%.
- Water is the most important ingredient in sake-making–just like Irish whiskey, New York bagels and Michael Phelps’ career.
- Don’t save it! Sake is meant to be drank within a year or two.
- Just like beer, store sake in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
- Sake should never be yellow, gamey or skunky.
- Impress your date by ordering daiginjo-shu, the finest quality of sake, or ginjo-shu, the second finest.
- There is no unfiltered sake, only loosely or roughly filtered. Such milky-looking nigori sake is sweet, and best enjoyed with dessert.
Soto’s classes are a steal at $25 a person and include a tasting flight of five sakes. Each class is paired with a sake tasting dinner for $75 per person on the following Tuesday. Register for both and pay only $90.
Classes take place at the Four Seasons Baltimore, which stocks a whopping 100+ sakes, on the second Saturday of each month through the end of the year.
Four Seasons Baltimore
200 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
Mary was born and raised in New York City where her family owned restaurants. Instead of eating dirt on the playground, she ate duck blood, beef tripe and pork belly. She cut her teeth at The Mandarin Oriental and The Ritz-Carlton hotels, working with Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams, Michael Stipe, LeVar Burton, Jane Krakowski and others. Mary founded Girl Meets Food in 2009 as a cover for her debilitating addiction to fried chicken and was named Washington Post’s “Favorite Local Foodie.” After 13 years in hospitality, she started freelance writing for USA Today, The Washington Post, Eater, Washington City Paper, and more. Today, she provides digital marketing for hospitality clients as a content creator who’s contently creating content.