Italy is known to be a wine country. Wine is the classic drink of choice that goes well with Italian cuisine like pizza and pasta. With that said, there is actually a sake booming in Italy, and there is a go-to-person that spreads the beauty of sake.
Popularizing sake in the wine country Italy!
That person is the former Japanese soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata that is also well-known overseas. Upon retiring, in his mission to find himself, he fled to travel the world, and has been involved in various projects.
During the London olympic and soccer world cup in Brazil, he had set up sake bars locally, and had spread the beauty of sake.
During these efforts, in 2015, a sake bar had opened in line with the international exposition held in Milano. The picture the Italians had of sake generally comes from priests such as Luís Fróis and Francis Xavier that had visited Japan during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Especially, Luís Fróis had sent information to Portugal on how sake would be heated as opposed to cold alcoholic drinks that people of Portugal were more accustomed to.
Italians have a more similar way of seeing sake in this way, and many think that it is to be matched with Japanese food, and drunk hot.
Because of this, many Italians who think Italian food is the best cuisine in the world do not find sake very well, and it is often thought that sake does not go well with a wine country.
This is where Hidetoshi Nakata came in.He focused on various ways of drinking sake, changing the existing stereotype that sake had to be drunk hot.
In Japan, sake is enjoyed in many different ways.
There are those who drink atsukan, also known as hot sake, but there are also others that drink it in room temperature, and some enjoy chilled sake. Nakata tries to spread the various creative ways of drinking sake.
For example, one suggestion Nakata gives is to drink sake with a unique glass made with Mino pottery. He makes an effort not only in Italy, but in other countries around the world.
What makes Nakata’s sake Bar special is how it prepares food that goes well with sake. One example would be preparing Risotto cooked with sake instead of Champagne. Surprising many on how well it went together. And, it also impressed local chefs on how dishes created its own character every time a different kind of sake is used.
The potential of sake
As you can see, the sake has its own uniqueness, and by using various sake in preparing different dishes, it will also appeal and penetrate the market in wine countries such as Italy.
On the other hand, there is also the need to match how sake is enjoyed in different countries. In Brazil, sake is known to be drunk when you want to party, and the popular tastes are on the lighter end. It might take a little longer for the qualities of sake to be appreciated.
There are also other critiques that want a little more sourness to it, or want a lower alcohol dosage available, and the reality is, it might not actually be as easy as we think to have sake be accepted by many.
That doesn’t mean local Japanese producers and manufacturers aren’t taking any action. There are some that have made the bet on the new potential of sake and have started manufacturing for foreign market. However, in Japan there have also been a trend of the younger generation drinking less and less sake.
This trend has lead many marketing efforts to appeal more to the younger generation. For example, by selling sparkling sake, options of lower alcohol percentage, and introducing various ways to choose sake that goes well with meals.
This kind of approach can also be used for foreigners, and the efforts made by Hidetoshi Nakata could be spread not only in Japan but globally, that perhaps may lead sake to become popular.