Breaking Up With Sake?

By / Magazine / September 14th, 2011 / 2

Is there an appropriate wine to serve when you’re breaking up with your girlfriend?

Well, you can’t say that my readers aren’t classy. Since you’re going to wind up wearing most of it, I’d pick a white wine. They cause less of a stain and if you’re at a restaurant (and isn’t that were most of these dastardly deeds take place?) you’ll look respectable enough to stick around and finish your (and her) entrée after she’s made a beeline for the exit once you’ve lowered the boom.

The last thing she needs is a glass of juice that’s too acidic or oaky. All things considered, I’d go with something slightly sweet like a bottle filled with Riesling. Plus, a white with a bit of sugary fruit will make for a better appetizer wine since I’m betting you’re the kind of guy who’s going to blurt out your intentions well before the mains arrive. If you want to go drier pick an exotic, perfumey white such as a Viognier or Chenin Blanc.

Really though, if the date stamp on your relationship really has expired (and assuming that you really dug your gal at least at the beginning) she deserves some liquid respect. The best fallback position will always be something you know she likes. Familiarity may just make that knife you’re going to stick in her back go in with a little less pain and agony. (BTW, even if she loves it I still bet you’ll be wearing some).

I received a bottle of sake as a housewarming gift. What should I do with it?

Good old sake: There aren’t too many tipples as polarizing as Japan’s liquid claim to fame. I know some people who can’t get enough of the stuff; while I’ve heard just as many suggest its flavour has a fleshy banality equal to sucking on a finger … someone else’s finger.

While I enjoy a glass or two with sushi, having had my fair share of the good, the bad and the barely drinkable my jury is still out when it comes to a verdict on sake’s mass appeal. Though called a rice wine (duh, because it’s a bit boozy and that’s what it’s made from), since it originates from a grain I say it’s more like an Asian cousin to beer. Either way, there are enough unique steps in the sake making process to allow it to sidestep generic characterization.

Since its name sounds so singular you might think that they’re all the same. Not so. The variety of styles is over the top, with each and every one coming with its own serving instructions. I prefer my sake with a slight chill, but since you have a free bottle play around with try a shot warm, cold, cool and at room temperature to see what lifts your kimono.

If you’re not up for sake straight I got turned on to a hip cocktail while in San Francisco. ANZU — a California-Japanese fusion restaurant in the hip Hotel Nikko — makes a mean Cucumber Sake Martini. Cucumber is the flavour of summer 2011 and the ANZU’s manager shared the recipe:

1 1/2 oz sake
1/2 oz Hendricks’s gin
1/2 oz lime juice
3 cubes of diced cucumber
Splash of simple syrup
Ice cubes
1 cucumber wedge for garnish

Place the cubes of cucumber, simple syrup and lime juice into a martini shaker and muddle the ingredients together. Add the ice, sake and gin and shake it up. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a cucumber wedge.

This is one tasty concoction that just might convince you to give sake a permanent place in your liquor cabinet.


Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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