When it comes to matching sake with food, there are no hard and fast rules. However, conventional wisdom for pairing the drink with wagyu beef — that most luxurious of meats, sumptuously marbled with buttery fat — suggests choosing earthy, full-bodied sake with copious acidity, such as kimoto- or yamahai-style (sake production methods that use naturally occurring lactic acid) brews.

To the best of my recollection, I'd never encountered the combination of wagyu with highly polished, refined daiginjō and junmai daiginjō (the highest grades of sake) varieties, which tend to veer more toward fruit than forest floor, with sweet floral notes rather than bracing tartness. There's a first time for everything, though.

With a mostly open mind, I walk into Yakiniku Jumbo Shirokane, a popular grilled beef restaurant in Tokyo's Minato Ward. I've been invited to sample several wagyu dishes paired with brews from the innovative sake company Nihonshu Oendan, which partners with small producers in six prefectures to create a line of sake showcasing the terroir of each region. The company sells exclusively muroka nama genshu — unpasteurized, undiluted sake that has not undergone charcoal filtration — and nearly all of it is junmai daiginjō.