Sake masters draw fans at first U.N. tasting event

Kyodo

Twenty-three sake masters held a tasting event at U.N. headquarters Friday, giving diplomats and their staff a chance to sample various kinds the Japanese liquor often called rice wine.

While sampling sakes made by 48 breweries across Japan, some hailed the “sophistication and craftsmanship” used to create the intriguing tastes.

“This is a very good opportunity for the world to know the sophistication of Japanese in creating different tastes,” said Yoon Yeocheol, chief of protocol at the Protocol and Liaison Service Department for General Assembly and Conference Management at the United Nations.

“Whenever I try it, I am amazed by the sophisticatedness of the variety,” the South Korean said.

The event, cosponsored by the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and the Japan Choice Brewing Association, was the first of its kind to be held at U.N. headquarters and was attended by about 200 diplomats and U.N. staff, according to the organizers.

Naotaka Miyasaka, president of Miyasaka Brewing Co. in Nagano Prefecture and head of the association, said he and other sake makers hope to raise sake’s international profile and boost the international image of Japan’s food culture.

“Japan’s food culture centering on sushi is becoming popular around the world, and we would like them to know sake fits best with Japanese food,” he said.

“We brought to the event the highest quality of sake we make,” he said. “We would be happy if (visitors) become aware that Japan has such kinds of sake.”

Carlos Chavarri of the Spanish Mission to the United Nations, said he had never had such good sake before and will recommend it to other people.

Asked whether he will recommend sake or Spanish wine, Chavarri said, “I have to stick with my roots, so I would recommend wine, but sake tastes as good as wine, I must say.”