Sake is a Japanese beverage made from rice, and although sometimes referred to as "rice wine" by non Japanese, it is actually closer to "rice beer." The brewing process somewhat closely resembles brewing beer.
Interesting, during my heavy drinking Japan days (due to the business crowd I worked with, not me!), we would usually have a glass of sake along with a glass of beer. Two fisted drinking indeed!
Despite what many (especially Americans) think, sake is not normally drunk warm. There are some sakes (primarily cheap ones) that are traditionally drunk warm during the winter. I am no sake expert by any means, but I have been to Sake Bars in Tokyo that served over 1000 different sakes, and yes, many of them taste very different from each other!
I first had a sparkling sake in London, before seeing John-Luc Ponty at Royal Albert Hall. I went for sushi with my friend Kate, and the nearly over the top effeminate and very British waiter really knew his sakes, and suggested, based on a brief conversation, that I should try the sparkling sake. The waiter knew his stuff, and it accompanied the sushi superbly.
Fast forward to today. I'm told that sake is considered an old person's drink in Japan, much like Sherry is considered an old person's drink. Sake producers are trying to shake that image and appeal more to a wider audience, and sparkling sake with brand names like "Poochi Poochi" are part of that.
Although I didn't find any Poochi Poochi, Kevin at Blanchards Liquors in Allston choose a couple of very reasonable priced bottles. The cheapest sparkling sakes supposedly basically suck, which mirrors my experience with very cheap non-sparkling sake.
Marumoto Brewery's Hou Hou Shu and Hana Hou Hou Shu (looks like a rose, but it isn't) sparkling sakes come in 180ml and 300 ml bottles, and the 300ml bottles were about $15 (from memory), and a mere 6% alcohol.
Tasting Note: Marumoto Brewery's Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Sake - April 2013. I'll give it a B/B+ and add it's fun and I'm buying more!
Light yellow and slightly cloudy.
The nose definitely resembles a light sake to me. Light and ethereal, but the palate is really where the enjoyment is for me.
Very pleasant on the palate with a fortune cookie/pastry type taste and a light citrusy/appley backdrop. Very smooth and elegant
Tasting Note: Marumoto Brewery's Hana Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Sake - April 2013. I'll also give it a B/B+ and yes, it's fun and I'm buying more!
This is a darker amber-yellow, almost with a bit of brown and cloudy enough to be opaque.
On the nose it's similar to the Hou Hou Shu above but perhaps a bit richer, with nearly a faint tinge of apple cider.
Almost absurdly smooth. A bit more body that the Hou Hou Shu but similar. More like an unfiltered ale than the Hou Hou Shu, but these are much more similar than different.
I like them both!