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sake/foie gras pairing

Any suggestions for an inexpensive sake to pair with a seared foie gras dish?

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  1. The combination doesn't sound good to me. The best wine match with a seared foie gras is something like a Sauternes or Coteaux du Layon. My favorite kind of sake -- Junmai Daiginjo -- is too dry to go with seared foie. At least, to my way of thinking . . .

    1. I have to agree, sake is going to be way to dry for the foie gras. Is there any reason you paired these together?

      1. Don't know about the "too dry" argument. Lots of French chefs and cookbooks recommend serving seared foie gras with dry reds and whites: five or six-year-old red Médoc, Haut Médoc and Graves, Pomerol, silky Cahors and Madiran, aged wines from the Sud-Ouest, Santenay, Ladoix, Beaune, classy Volnay "encore sur le fruit rouge", winey Champagne, Tokay Pinot Gris and Condrieu -- along with a bunch of sweet but not too sweet white and even red wines, of course -- are all suggestions pulled from one book. Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon once memorably paired a big hunk of seared foie topped by a big hunk of melting Munster cheese with a Mad River red ale. Besides, sake often is not bone dry. No, my worry re sake wouldn't be that its dryness but that it mightn't have the stuffing to stand up to the foie, though to some extent that could be mitigated by what else was on the plate.

        Sorry, no reccos. The sake selection in Quebec is laughable.

        3 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          I agree with the idea of (some, but not all) of the alternative dry French wines you mention above, however . . .

          Almost all of the wines you mentioned are known for their fruit -- young-ish Merlot and/or Cabernet-Merlot blends, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Viognier. (I'm having a hard time envisioning the Cahors and Madiran match -- I may have to try it and see!) In that sense, they would certainly pair up well, depending upon the preperation.

          For example, seared foie with a sauce of fresh and dried cherries is something I'd pair up with a young Burgundy from the Cote de Beaune; with a plum preparation, I'd shift over to a Pomerol or St.-Emilion; with a Port reduction, I'd serve a Ruby -- perhaps a VC-style -- Porto; but with a "straight, simple" seared foie, I'd opt for a sweet wine from Sauternes or the Loire.

          When I was staying in Gascogny with a producer who makes both foie gras and white wine, we had a huge slab of foie gras with Cotes de Gascogne blanc -- definitely not my first choice. . . . ;^)

          Returning to sake for a moment, I was thinking of a dessert sake. Even my Junmai Daiginjo is off-dry, but not -- IMHO -- sweet enough, nor with enough "ooomph!" to work with the seared foie.

          1. re: zin1953

            >>Almost all of the wines you mentioned are known for their fruit<<

            Agreed. And Meursault and Montrachet, other wines that can pair wonderfully with foie gras, are rich, almost honeyed, at times. But they're all fairly low on residual sugar, lower even (I'd guess) than some sakes. That's my point: there's nothing about foie gras that demands a sweet wine, though many North Americans seem to think one is de rigueur. Ooomph or, as I put it, stuffing is another consideration entirely, as is fruit.

            1. re: carswell

              I'm not sure if it's Americans or the French . . .

              In Bordeaux and Paris, I've been served Sauternes; in the Loire, a Vouvray Moelleux or Coteaux du Layon; in Burgundy, yes -- whites and reds, depending on the prep . . . only in Gascogny would I say "feh!"

        2. aren't there quite a few "floral" sakes that are off-dry? i've heard that the amount of cloudyness can indicate a sweeter (i.e. ricier) sake, but I'm not sure if that's a rule of thumb or just rumor. i
          this sounds like a fun pairing! love to hear how it turns out.

          when are you serving it? you might want to try calling Astor Wines in New York to get an opinion. they are friendly with recs, and if you can't find it locally, maybe order it.

          1. Think it is a bad idea too. Even for floral sakes, the flavors of sake is too subtle to be drank with foie gras. With such a strong tasting food, i bet most sake will taste the same.

            1. To all naysayers, the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Company has suggested that Sake can be an appropriate pairing (I have written them too and will let you know what they say) AND Le Cirque was recently pairing a seared foie gras dish with sake. We will let you know how it goes. Will check out Astor Wines. Thank you.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bronweneas

                Not an expert, but...seems like an aged dessert sake such as Seiryo Kijoshu or Hanahato Kijoshu, which are sweet and nutty, would be suitable...I believe Astor wines has these in stock sometimes

              2. Must admit I'm not at all familiar with sake...

                But if you can find a better match with foie gras than Sauternes, I'd be impressed... it's one of the greatest flavor combinations in the food/wine spectrum.

                As one poster suggested, it would seem a sweeter or more "floral" sake would be in order... or if there's such a thing as a "dessert" sake... but again I have no personal experience with it.

                1. My vote would be for Sauternes or a Vouvray Moelleux. Or a Savennieres Moelleux, if you can find one.
                  I've only had foie gras once and it was delicious. I think it needs a sweeter, high acid wine.

                  1. IMO sake is a very good paring for seared foie gras as it is very similar in taste to ankimo (monkfish liver) and to ankimo’s texture in it’s natural state (rather than it being formed into a log). Yum!

                    I’m a big fan of premium cold sake preferring dry and medium dry over the sweeter/floral types and almost never have nigori (the white/cloudy unfiltered sake).

                    I would, however, suggest that you get the best (Japanese not American brand) sake that you can reasonably afford rather than an “inexpensive” brand. If you want sake for just this one course you can find many kinds of Japanese premium sake in 300ml – 500ml bottles for less than $10 at Asian markets, wine stores and even at natural food stores.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: yinyangdi

                      FWIW, I've never been a big of ankimo, and yet I love foie gras . . . .

                      1. re: yinyangdi

                        Could you recommend one in specific that we ought to try or a brand that would be good? i haven't tried very many types of sake. Do you agree that a sweet aged sake is the best choice of sakes for seared foie gras?

                        1. re: bronweneas

                          If you have a decent place to get sake in your area then talk to the sales help and read the back of the bottle. Many sakes list their flavor profile and sweetness. As was mentioned go to Astor Wines for a decent sake selection, also Ambassador WInes has some good ones and they should know what they taste like. A few years ago John Gauntner was there for a few days doing tastings and you can't get better than that. (He's the top non-Japanese sake expert in the world, lives in japan and used to write a weekly on sake for the Japan Times, and has written the best sake books on the market.) So I figure they have good sakes and are knowledgeable about them.

                          The difficult thing about recommending sake is that more than wine, beer, etc. sake varies quite a bit year to year, and how old it is. A fresh sake will taste different than the same sake that is 11 months old. (Sake should be drunk within a year except for the few sakes made to age, and even those have finished their aging before bottling and should be drunk relatively soon.) And the next years batch with the same name almost definitely will taste different. The flavor profile will almost always be consistent but it won't be the same.

                          You might want to read up a bit on sake at John Gauntners site. There might be some good info for you there.

                          1. re: JMF

                            Thanks for referring the OP to John Gauntners' sake-world site (as I should have done). Apologies to the OP for not responding; I was away from computer since 2/21.