Does sake age? Doesn't it turn into vinegar?
I'm Matsumoto, a sommelier specializing in fine sake from ancient times.
This time I will explain a little about the aging of sake.
What exactly is maturation? From that point...
According to the general idea of maturity,
①Enzymes possessed by microorganisms and the food itself work over time to break down proteins, converting them into amino acids and peptides, and causing reactions such as increasing the flavor (soy sauce, cheese, meat, etc.)
②A reaction in which a substance changes over time without the intervention of microorganisms or enzymes.
Both types occur at the same time.
During the aging of sake, the enzyme function is stopped during the process of pasteurization, so basically only reaction 2 occurs. (In the case of raw sake, it is not pasteurized, so the enzymes are still alive and the sake may become sweet.)
In fact, the reaction that is observed in ``Ancient Beauty Sake'' is mainly the Maillard reaction, which is a reaction between sugar and amino acids to produce a brown colored substance (Meiraizin).
Now, let's explain the Maillard reaction in detail!
The Maillard reaction is a reaction that occurs when amino acids and sugars (water is also required) are present at the same time, and produces various aroma components while synthesizing a brown substance.
A simple and familiar example is the phenomenon in which when onions are stir-fried for a long time, they gradually turn from a candy color to brown, and the reaction that often occurs with delicious brown foods that everyone loves, such as beef steak and fried chicken.
The key is heat; the higher the temperature, the faster the Maillard reaction will proceed. Even Japanese sake acquires color as it is stored at higher temperatures, so many breweries store ``Kojo no Bishu'' in tanks at room temperature, and some sake breweries initially keep it at low temperatures but switch to storing it at room temperature in order to add color.
~Fragrance components and characteristics of aged incense~
You can enjoy a variety of scents due to the Maillard reaction and ester bonds.
This is a unique way to enjoy aged vintages.
This time, we will delve deeper into not only the characteristics of the scent, but also how it is produced.
I would like to explain
-Sotolon - Caramel and dried fruit aroma
When it comes to aged incense, this is the most typical main ingredient.It is a component that is responsible for the various scents felt by aging, such as caramel, dried fruit, and honey-like scents.
Sotolon is produced through the course of the Maillard reaction, and increases as the aging period becomes longer or the brown reaction of the Maillard reaction becomes darker.
It is also produced when α-ketobutyric acid, a decomposition product of amino acids, combines with acetaldehyde produced during fermentation.
-Furfural - Nutty and savory aroma
Various aldehydes are produced during ripening due to Strecker decomposition, which occurs as a side reaction of the Maillard reaction.
Among them, we will introduce furfural, which is a type of aromatic aldehyde.
Although it is the ingredient that causes the smell of snails, it has a nutty and burnt aroma. It is an ingredient that allows you to enjoy a very pleasant scent depending on its content.
-Pyrazines - Relaxing aroma
A fragrance component that is responsible for the aroma even in aged sake. The ingredients found in roasted meat and roasted green tea also have the effect of relaxing the brain and promoting blood flow.
-Diethyl succinate - Honey - like scent
It is thought to be the main component of the honey-like aroma felt in aged sake.One of the joys of aged sake is that it is a complex intertwining of various aromatic components, allowing you to enjoy a wide variety of aromas.
~Changes in taste due to aging
Aging causes many changes in taste.I think the major changes in taste due to aging are bitterness and acidity.
In particular, it is deeply involved in pairing with food.
Sake mainly contains succinic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and citric acid.Among them, succinic acid, which is said to control umami flavor, changes into succinic acid monoethyl ester, which has a cleaner taste, and malic acid, which has a sharp sourness, changes into malic acid monoethyl ester, which has a softer and refreshing sour taste. I will go
Furthermore, the bitterness, which is hard to feel with regular sake, increases and can be felt firmly.
This brings out the depth of the flavor, giving it a more complex and long aftertaste.
Up until now, the image of koshu has been that it is an alcoholic drink that can be enjoyed after a meal, but at ``Kokotsu no Bishu'' we propose it as a sake that can be enjoyed as a pairing not only after a meal, but also as a companion drink.
There are three types,
・Light and light-tasting old sake with a pale color [Tanjuku]
・Old sake with a strong flavor and color, and a deep and heavy taste [Koiju]
・In the middle of the list above, a medium-bodied old sake that is not heavy and has a strong flavor [Medium-aged]
Whether it's fish, meat, vegetables, sweets, or cheese, you can enjoy pairing with the ingredients and dishes that go well with each.
~Does sake turn into vinegar when it gets old? ～
In conclusion, it doesn't turn out to be vinegar.
Acetic acid bacteria are required to make vinegar, but sake does not contain them.
Aged sake contains many sugars and acids, including amino acids.
In this balance, some foods may taste sour if they contain too much acid (especially those derived from lactic acid bacteria).
As you let it sit further, changes occur again, and the balance of sweetness and acidity improves.
Drinking alcohol that is too acidic may mean you are still young.
I think one of the interesting parts of aged sake, like wine, sherry, and whisky, is that complex chemical reactions occur when it is aged, creating a variety of aromas that even sake brewers cannot predict.
Please take your time and enjoy the mellow vintage sake that has been around for many years and can only be enjoyed at that moment.