cover image Sakepedia: The Complete Guide to Drinking Sake

Sakepedia: The Complete Guide to Drinking Sake

Jeff Cioletti. Turner, $16.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-68336-773-4

“Connoisseurship, for too long, has been about exclusion,” writes Cioletti (The Year of Drinking Adventurously), a certified sake sommelier, in his introduction to this deep dive into sake. Opening with a history of sake, which dates back to 250 BCE, Cioletti charts the drink’s evolution from a cloudy, milky version, to its first commercial production around 1192 (followed by a century-long prohibition ending in 1334), and the elixir known and loved today. Along the way, Cioletti explains how the spirit is produced and offers descriptions and ratings of various sake brands. Each chapter acts as a lesson, allowing readers to explore different facets of sake, such as the brightness of namazakes (unpasteurized sake), for example, as well as closer looks at various regions and recommendations for seasonal styles, brewery tours, and sake shops worth checking out in Japan. Even novice sake bombers who simply want cursory instruction will benefit from Cioletti’s knowledge and friendly tone, as when he explains that “rice wine” is a misnomer, as sake’s brewing process is actually closer to that of beer. This is an expert and entertaining guide to sake that even devotees will find themselves returning to time and again. (Feb.)