Twist to the Summer BBQ: Organic Saké, Made in U.S.A.

Last month I had the unique opportunity of touring Saké One—the world's only American-owned saké brewery on U.S. soil—located in Forest Grove, Oregon.

I learned all about how saké is made, including how the eastern slopes of Oregon's coastal mountain range produce just the right notes within its water runoff to transform Japanese rice into saké. After sticking my head inside a two-story holding tank filled with frothing liquid (fermenting rice, apparently), I was ushered in to a tasting session that included all 12 of the maker's brands. Naturally, after the sixth tasting or so, I began thinking about what a perfect pairing saké is to the varied cuisines of Hawaii. And, after returning home and doing a bit of legwork, I discovered that saké is a relatively healthier summer beverage than most of our adult beverages of choice.

First, premium saké is free from additives and preservatives. It is also free of the sulfites many folks are allergic to and are commonly found in red wines. Fermented foods, like saké, are also believed to have compounds that help improve our immune systems (in moderation, of course).

Saké One, I should note, aside from being "All-American", has an entire line of organic sakés. Their Momokawa line includes the traditional set of Junmai Ginjo sakés, and was named after the Japanese family that helped build the brewery and refine their brewing process. This line is made up of Silver, Diamond, Ruby and Pearl varietals, which range from driest to least dry. Their "G" (stands for Genshu, or "premium strength") line is packed with alcohol (20%), yet incredibly smooth and clean. Perhaps the most intriguing, I felt, was their Moonstone line, which fused various fruit flavors with Junmai Ginjo-grade saké. Asian pear, raspberry and plum were wonderful and refreshing; coconut lemongrass was a standout that had me licking the glass and reaching for my wallet.

While perusing Saké One's literature, I came across a quote from wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil. He said: "The best saké I have tried, reminds me of drinking mountain spring water. I can't think of any other alcoholic beverage that seems so pure and agreeable."

So why not surprise your guests with a cool, crisp Cucumber Lemon or Ginger Pear Saké'tini at your next barbeque? Beat the heat and show them your cutting edge, health-conscious style.

And, if you'd really like to learn more of what the refreshing world of saké has to offer, then check out extraordinary Joy of Saké tasting event taking place at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu on Thursday, August 28th, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. The event, which happens to be the largest saké tasting in the United States, celebrates the art of saké brewing and will feature samples of 325 premium sakés; including Saké One.

If you make it to the event, make a move to the Saké One booth to try one of their organic varietals or a glass of Moonstone Coconut Lemongrass Saké. I'll see you there.

To see a clip from Rachel Ray's tour of SakéOne, visit: http://affiliate.kickapps.com/kickapps/_Sake_Factory%20in%20Oregon/video/337775/44582.html?b=

Premium saké is free from additive, preservatives and the sulfites many folks are allergic to that are commonly found in red wines