The first edition of 5StarSake held in Verona on April 13th, 2018, selected 18 finest sake brands, the best available in Italy. 5StarSake was held before Vinitaly as part of Vinitaly International’s annual wine selection 5StarWines.
The last edition of 5StarWines included a special tasting section entitled “5StarSake” and dedicated to Japan’s national drink, sake. On the last day of the wine tasting, three renowned sake experts blindly tasted and evaluated 32 different kinds of sake. Chairman of the jury was Marco Massarotto, founder and president of NPO La Via del Sake, and organiser of the Milano Sake Festival. Together with Massarotto, famous wine selector Dan Lerner and founder of Sake Company Lorenzo Ferraboschi were part of the judging panel. Tasted “by category”, the drinks were evaluated on their visual and olfactory presentation, as well as on their taste and aroma.
Out of the 32 samples arrived in Verona for the selection, only 18 reached the minimum evaluation score that would grant them publication on the 5StarWines website:
Hatsumago Densho Kimoto Honjozo
Kiippon Tokubetsu Junmai
Shuho Alps Masamune Junmaidaiginjo
Shuho Alps Masamune Junmaiginjo
Moreover, these 18 selected sake received a special boost on all of the 5StarWines’ communication channels. Among these 18 selected sake, 9 in particular reached a higher evaluation score and were assigned a “Special Mention”:
Konishi’s Shirayuki Edo Genshu;
Kozaemon’s Junmai Umeshu;
Asahishuzo’s Dassai 23.
On the selection he chaired, Marco Massarotto comments: “I think this is a very important moment, Vinitaly is the home of wine in Italy and sake is a product that should stand side by side with wine on the shelves and on the cellars that sommeliers work with. Sake is a product with extraordinary properties and features in food matching, both with Italian and international cuisine, sometimes even more than with Japanese cuisine! Being at Vinitaly 2018 is for sake both a very big challenge and a big opportunity, I want to thank Vinitaly International for this amazing possibility. With 5StarSake we are educating Italy, while also helping the craft, the industry, and the artisans in Japan that need to commercialise their product in order to survive the challenges of the global market.” On the increasing commercialisation of sake in Italy, Dan Lerner observes: “Sake consumption in Italy is growing pretty fast, so much that even some Italian restaurants are offering it on their drink menus! I feel like the 5StarSake event is only the beginning: right now sake is present at Vinitaly only through this selection and some stalls in the international pavilion, but who knows, in a couple of years there could be an entire pavilion dedicated to the Japanese rice wine!”
An event unique in its kind, 5StarSake promoted a special drink that it is still little known in Italy and will help both Italian consumers and Japanese producers. It will inform Italian consumers about the best sake brands available in their country, while also introducing the Japanese producers to a market that is increasingly interested in their products.