Curious about Fukunomiya Sake
Hi All --
This is, I think my first posting on the Wine Board and I have great confidence that someone will be able to assist me in my curiousity. I have a general and specific question.
The mother of one of my daughter's friends is Japanese and seems somewhat traditional. Every time her daughter comes to our house or we have her do something with my daughter, she brings a gift. First question: is this standard cultural practice or is she just very generous?
Second question: yesterday she brought us a bottle of some very impressive looking sake (we were taking her daughter to Disneyland for the day). It is in a teardrop shaped bottle and has gold leaf floating throughout it. I understand the gold leaf is for good luck, and that this is to be served cold. The label reads "FUKUNOMIYA" and further indicates "produced by MIYAMOTOSHUZOUTEN."
I have run both these names on google and come up empty. Can someone out there let me know what it is we have so that I don't just pop it with a frozen Trader Joe's rice bowl? :) Should we have them over to dinner to share it?
BTW, when she came to pick her daughter up after the trip, she brought a box of six Beard Papa cream puffs. Again, is this standard? Should we have offered them one before they left? We feel remiss in not reciprocating when our kid goes somewhere with her kid, but truly don't know if we should or how that would be taken, etc.
First off, although often called rice wine and treated like wine, sake is a brewed beverage and belongs on the beer board... Culturally speaking, you should probably reciprocate on the gift giving when she does you a favor, though even by Japanese standards, I think it's a little bit excessive to continue it multiple times. She may feel that since she doesn't know you in any other context other than providing a favor for her, she needs to bring you a gift. If you had them over for dinner as friends, you would change the context of the relationship.
I think this is the sake you are referring to, but not sure if it is the exact one- http://www.mujou.co.jp/fukunomiya.htm . Looks to be a "daiginjo" which is a very nice quality sake. Drink it chilled. I'm not up on pairing myself and I would probably drink this with any nice food or as an aperitif with some salty snacks.
Most of your questions seem to be more cultural rather than wine-related, so let me stick with the sake itself.
I would urge you to check out: 1) http://www.sake-world.com/ -- the site of John Gauntner; one of, if not THE leading (non-Japanese) experts on the world of sake; and 2) http://www.esake.com/ -- a site set up by several small sake producers.
I am not familiar with either Fukunomiya nor Miyanotoshuzouten. But there are some 1,500 different sake brewers in Japan, so that isn't so surprising. There should be other information on the label, such as the type of sake -- Junmai, Ginjo, Daiginjo, Junmai Daiginjo, Namazake, etc. This will help you find out more about the bottle in question.
I wish I could have been of more help. Sorry.