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John Gauntner

For John Gauntner's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Feb 3, 2002

Sake's never been better -- so why the poor business?

Sake is so central to life in these islands that the name of the fermented rice drink is also the Japanese word for all alcoholic drinks. Now, though, the venerable world of sake-brewing faces a critical challenge. Though there's no chance of it dropping out ...

| Feb 3, 2002

Clearly making the grade isn't such an easy task

One of the biggest barriers to learning about sake is the terminology used to define the various grades. It is not a simple linguistic matter, as even the average Japanese person, more often than not, does not know specifically to what the terminology refers. ...

Feb 3, 2002

The long journey from rice to ambrosia

Sake is brewed -- and not distilled -- from rice. The alcohol content is initially about 20 percent, but this is usually watered down to about 16 percent, which is just a tad more than most wine. But sake is closer to beer than ...

| Jan 20, 2002

A heavenly match made in Tsukishima

Ajisen strikes you as special before you even walk in the door. Great care has been taken in creating the entrance itself -- a good sign of the good things to come. The entrance is very atypical of a sake pub. Instead of the usual ...

| Jan 6, 2002

Uncorking the bubbly, Nihon-style

Happy New Year to all Japan Times readers. May 2002 be a year of health and prosperity for all. And what better way to open the new year in Japan than with a glass of bubbly -- sparkling nihonshu, that is. It really does ...

| Dec 23, 2001

An o-tososan a year keeps the doc away

It's a rare occasion or ceremony that does not include some sake in Japan, and that harbinger of renewal, New Year's Day, is no exception. Although sake figures prominently in o-shogatsu celebrations from morning to night, opening the year with a prayer for health ...

It used be the case for all kinds of sake

| Dec 9, 2001

It used be the case for all kinds of sake

You don't hear much about the tanks used for brewing or storing sake. In many other beverages, the type, age and source of the wood used for the tanks often contributes a major component to the flavor. Although sake is now independent of these ...

Hey, that's a sake of a different color

| Nov 25, 2001

Hey, that's a sake of a different color

When you think about it, the realm of sake flavor profiles and types can be perceived as, well, a bit narrow. From the sweetest to the driest, from the roughest to the cleanest, we are not exactly talking about major bandwidth. This, in fact, ...

| Nov 11, 2001

How mold grew to be so unique

There are two things that make nihonshu unique among the world's alcoholic beverages. One is the process known as heiko fukuhakko, or multiple parallel fermentation. In short, this means that saccharification and fermentation take place simultaneously in the same vat, as opposed to sequentially, ...