Episode 42 Show Notes

Season 1. Episode 42. Sake Industry insider Monica Samuels had us at “Cheez-its.” When discussing the latest trends in sake and food pairing, Monica blew our minds suggesting we look into sake and junk food. Believe us, we will. Genius! Getting her start at Sushi Samba in it’s Sex-and-the-City heyday and quickly rising to manage a list of over 100 sakes at a time when most New Yorkers had never even heard of a sake cocktail. Monica tells us about her growing interest in sake that was encouraged by some impressive sake brewery visits to Japan. It wouldn’t be Sake Revolution without a tasting and Monica brought us a doozy to sink our teeth into. From Manatsuru Brewery in Fukui prefecture, we explore the fun and funky Mana 1751 Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmmai Muroka Genshu. The product of a true micro brewery, this is a Yamahai lover’s Yamahai for sure. Join us on our fun and enlightening visit with Monica Samuels!

Skip to: 00:19 Hosts Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 01:01 Interview: Monica Samuels

Skip to: 11:19 Hot Tip: Junk Food and Sake Pairing

Skip to: 12:25 Sake Introduction

Skip to: 14:49 Sake Tasting: Mana 1751 Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai Muroka Genshu

Mana 1751 Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai Muroka Genshu

Alcohol: 16.5%
Classification: Yamahai, Tokubetsu Junmai, Muroka, Genshu
Prefecture: Fukui
SMV: +3.5
Brewery: Manatsuru Shuzo
Rice Type: Gohyakumangoku
Rice Milling: 60%
Brand: Mana 1751

Skip to: 27:20 Growing the Sake Market in the U.S.

Skip to: 33:51 Show Closing

This is it! Join us next time for another episode of Sake Revolution!

Episode 42 Transcript

ohn Puma: 0:21
Hello everybody. And welcome to Sake Revolution. This is America’s first sake podcast. I am your host, John Puma from the sake notes. Also the administrator at the internet sake discord and the guy on the show. Who’s not a sake samurai.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:37
And I am your host, Timothy Sullivan. I am the sake samurai. I’m also a sake educator as well as the founder of the Urban Sake website. And every week, John and I will be tasting and chatting about all things, sake and doing our best to make it fun and easy to understand.

John Puma: 0:54
That’s right, Tim. And, uh, what is in store for us?, this week? I understand you, uh, brought somebody along.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:01
Yes. We have a VIP guests in the studio with us today. The virtual studio. I want to welcome Monica Samuels. Who’s the director of sake and spirits for vine connections. Monica, thank you so much for joining us today.

Monica Samuels: 1:17
Thank you for having me. This is so much fun.

John Puma: 1:19
Yeah, thank you for coming, Monica, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? A little bit of a self-introduction

Monica Samuels: 1:25
Well, as Tim said, I work for a company called vine connections. I manage their Japanese side of the portfolio. We represent 17. sake producers throughout Japan and a couple of distillers of whiskey and gin. And shochu, I have been in the sake industry for about 13 years, um, working on the restaurant side, distributor side and now the import side. Uh, so it’s something that’s extremely important to me. I I’m half Japanese, so I was lucky enough to. Speak Japanese growing up and spend a lot of time in Japan as a child. So it was something that felt really natural to me. I live in New York city. I’m originally from Southern California and I drink a lot of sakes.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:16
you mentioned you worked in restaurants and things like how did you actually get started? What were your first steps into the sake industry?

Monica Samuels: 2:23
Well, I always really loved, I had a really strong passion for hospitality and food and beverage, and I was going to school studying marketing with the understanding that working in a restaurant, my whole career was probably not sustainable, but it was something that always. Attracted me much more than anything else. And eventually inspired me to move to New York. I followed my older sister who had moved there a few years before me and the first weekday that I lived in New York, I kind of stumbled into this restaurant. Sushi Samba and they were hiring a server and I was. Had nothing going on in my life. So, and they were really short staffed. So I ended up working like 80 hours a week, and I was picking up all kinds of extra responsibilities. And so I grew very quickly in that company because they, it was just being in the right place at the right time, I became the general manager of the location in the West village that I was working at in a couple of years. And I moved to Chicago and opened a location there for them and being, Japanese and someone who’s very multicultural and it’s a very multicultural restaurant. I became the mascot for sushi Samba, and they really liked having me represent the company. And, um, we had a very large sake list, for that time, it was about, it was 2005, 2004, 2005, and we had a hundred sakes on the list. So that was what we were always noted for. And all, we had a really. Very active PR team. And so I ended up being the spokesperson, talking about our sake list more and more. And eventually I took over the beverage program for all of their locations around the country and It gave me the inspiration to start studying really hard and taking, taking the category very seriously.

John Puma: 4:13
that’s very interesting. Nice, you mentioned that that’s how you got started in, in the restaurant and the things, but I’m very curious as to how you, what was your introduction to sake itself? What was your, your sake aha moment when you kind of really discovered the beverage.

Monica Samuels: 4:30
Well, so my parents don’t drink. Um, and so I think most people growing up are able to pinch a little bit of this and that from the liquor cabinet and from the fridge. And that’s your first experience with sake and I did not have that opportunity because my parents didn’t drink alcohol. And I spent summers at my grandparents house in Tokyo and my grandfather when he was discharged from world war II. Uh, sake brewery was the only company who really hired, was interested in hiring him. So he had actually worked as a kurabito in a brewery in ibaraki, that is no longer in operations. And so I always knew that my grandfather liked to drink sake and knew a lot about it. And we, there was always. sake open and it was not transportive sake. It was usually an isshobin of futsushu that was very inexpensive, but nobody ever noticed if the level and the bottle got lower. So, um, so that was the first alcohol that I’d ever drank. And I, you know, Japanese people. I really, really humble. And they’re very awkward about promoting themselves and kind of being their own cheerleader. And so being a loud, boisterous American, it was like, I saw this opportunity to, um, to really promote people who weren’t able to do it themselves. And it was probably working at sushi Samba that I had my first great glass of sake. Like I, I usually. Choked it down, as a teenager in Japan, but it was really working in New York that I had my first introduction, to great sake.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:03
Yeah, that hearing about sushi Samba, around that time really makes me think of like sex in the city and, that whole like cocktail culture and emerging sake culture. It must’ve been a very heady, like exciting time to work there.

Monica Samuels: 6:16
It was, and I have to give the owners a lot of credit you know, we would create these nightlife. Experiences and kind of force people to drink sake. All the cocktails had sake in them and people definitely did not go there to drink sake, but they inevitably ended up drinking sake. And we would overbook the restaurant to the point where people were waiting hours for their table. And we always gave them complimentary sake and one way or another, um, if you went to sushi Samba, you ended up drinking some sakes.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:46
That’s awesome. Now, that was kind of your first step into your professional work life. And obviously you connected really well with sake and here we are, but what. Attracted you to sake, to work with it professionally going on, even after you left, SUSHISAMBA like, why didn’t you go onto some other thing? Like what kept you with sake? What was the attraction there?

Monica Samuels: 7:09
I think it was how welcoming, brewers in Japan where, you know, I, I found the category much easier to get my head around than, than wine. The world of wine is so massive and there’s so much. There’s so much studying of maps and there’s, you know, you go 10 kilometers and the grape is called something else. And I just found that to be really, exhausting and sake. I think if you study it for a little while you feel really empowered, like you really have the nuts and bolts down. So that was great. It gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to communicate about sake and to educate others. And then. The times that I was able to go to Japan, we had a lot of importers and distributors at sushi Samba that were very generous. And when I did go to Japan to visit family, they would always set up different brewery visits. And those people were so appreciative and so shocked that I would even be interested in spending time in a brewery. And so it was, it was really charming and really made me feel like the sky was the limit in terms of getting more people into the category.

John Puma: 8:15
When, you mentioned like, you know, visiting Japan when you’ve got some time to yourself, it’s not, you’re not bogged down with business. What do you, what does Monica like to do in Japan?

Monica Samuels: 8:24
I have to go by myself to drink sake. You know, I spend a lot of time in Japan, hosting groups and. You know how it is when you’re, you’re just trying to make sure everyone has a good time, but at the same time, you really want everyone to shut up because you’re on a train and it’s obnoxious that everyone’s talking and you don’t want to be the hall monitor. Who’s always like squashing the fun, but you’re looking at people doing. Irreverent things with their chopsticks, and shouting, and, you know, speaking Japanese, like trying to speak Japanese in a way that almost sounds like they’re mocking Japanese people and it’s and everyone’s always late for the bullet train in the morning and it’s so stressful. And so as soon as I have a minute to myself, I really. Like the friends that I have in Japan, I should reach out to them more, but it’s so there’s something so wonderful about being alone in Japan and just walking into a bar and sitting at the counter and, it’s my favorite thing.

John Puma: 9:20
I can relate to that.

Timothy Sullivan: 9:22
Me too. Absolutely. So speaking of well, sake in general, whether it’s in Japan or here, you know what everybody has John and I talk a lot about this on the show. Like we have our types, you know, we have our personal styles of sake that we like. Divorced from, jobs are what we sell, but what are some of your personal favorite styles of sake And in addition to that, some of your favorite food pairings that you really like personally.

Monica Samuels: 9:50
So that’s an interesting question, right? Because as. sakeing nerds. I feel like we’re always reaching for something that’s a little more challenging rather than something that’s just purely delicious. And, um, for example, you know, there’s such a trend right now of these really like tart high acid, and aged namas and like aged Kimoto nama genshu. And I’m really trying to get into that because it’s so new. It’s so different from the sakes is that I cut my teeth on, but are those. Ones that I drink a whole bottle of before I even know it. No, so I would say that I like it. I tend to gravitate toward sakes where the bottle’s gone before I realize it. So I don’t love, I mean, I can appreciate and respect really, really perfumed ginjo styles or these really like funky tart acidic styles. But I do tend to really appreciate balance and restraint. in sakes, I actually drink a lot of Honjozo. The more I work in spirits, the more of an appreciation I have for blending and, um, the art of blending alcohol, where you don’t taste it and it’s, it’s incredibly balanced. And it does what it’s supposed to do in terms of the style of honjozo is, really resonates with me.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:06
And what about, what about some food pairings with that honjozo?

Monica Samuels: 11:09
Um, so I have been on this sake and junk food crusade lately because

John Puma: 11:15
Oh, I need

Monica Samuels: 11:16
we’re all.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:16
Tell me more.

Monica Samuels: 11:19
Well, I mean, we’re all drinking more at home. And I think one of the big problems with getting people to drink sake is they think it has to be so precious and they have to have this really exquisite, Japanese pairing and the right glassware and, and wine is really hard to pair with junk food. And, you know, if you took like, Almost every sake goes with Pringles, right. Or, and then you can take it a step further and Cheez-Its are great with sake and, um, you know, and like Doritos, the, I was eating an onigiri, earlier this summer and I had a bag of Doritos cause I was in central park and we had all kind of brought a mish-mash and out of the Dorito dust, I was dipping the onigiri in the Dorito dust. And I was like, this is just like furikake, you know? And so it’s, it’s like, so I just started thinking more and more about like artificial junk food and how it really is the ghetto version of a lot of like umami and Japanese flavors. So that’s my that’s definitely my thing right now.

Timothy Sullivan: 12:20
That sounds amazing. I love that. Yeah. Love that.

John Puma: 12:25
Yeah, Monica, can you introduce us to the, the sake that, you brought along for us this week?

Monica Samuels: 12:32
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so this sake brewery is, uh, manatsuru and this series of, of their sake is that they make is called mana 1751. The brewery was established in 1751 and they’re in fukui prefecture in Ono city. This is the smallest producer that we represent. They make 200 koku, um, they make 200 Koku, but they make 21 different types of sakes So it’s, it’s absurd. How small production they are. I, when I visited this brewery, I felt like I was in a diorama of a sake brewery. Like I couldn’t believe that these T these tiny tanks weren’t just for show, and it’s a one man operation. And Ono city is really cool. It’s kind of like saijo in hiroshima where there’s like one street, that’s a sake brewery street where you can, you can walk to, you know, six breweries and check them all out. Um, there NHK does this thing where they, they have these competitions for the best drinking water in Japan every, every year in Ono city always is in like the top five. So they always joke about how. Hedonistic it is to have the best tasting, drinking water in Japan and use it to hose down tanks. And, um, so the water is really great. This is, I’m sure you’ve heard this story so many times before, but this is one of those producers where when this generation took over the brewery, they really scaled back production. And so they were making. 5,000 Koku and he really scaled it back. And this guy is, pretty cocky. He would go around telling everyone that he wanted to challenge all the finishing, almost all the finishing steps to making sake So he was very determined to have this iconoclast. Idea where there’s no tank blending. Everything he makes is Yamahai or kimoto no added lactic acid, no water dilution. So everything is Genshu, Muroka no charcoal fining and of course everything is Junmai, he wouldn’t dream of adding alcohol. And so I think he ruffled some feathers when he took over, but his sake is, are really unique and he’s not, he’s always saying he’s not trying to compete with anyone. Else’s sakes he’s just trying to really. Create his own identity. And, um, I think I wanted to taste it because I really it’s interesting how people there’s this overlap between how umami expresses itself in sakeing and how age expresses itself in sake And this is super umami, rich, but doesn’t have any aging. And so I, I just, I think it’s kind of a fun one to taste and it’s. It’s very, very lactic, you know, and I always, I always like to think about how that lactic acid expresses itself in the sake And there’s so many different expressions here.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:16
Yeah. And you’re talking about the, president Mr. Keisuke Izumi, but he’s also the Toji as well as the president. So he’s the master brewer and owns the company, which is pretty rare. That’s not a common setup.

Monica Samuels: 15:31
Yeah. Um, I mean with 200 Koku there’s not a lot of money there to have two people in executive roles. So he, and he’s a total obsessive control freak. His son helps out, um, quite a bit, but other than that, it’s just him.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:46
So let me define what a koku is for our listeners. That’s 1,800 liters of sake is one Koku, and it’s a measurement by which breweries measure their output of sake And you said that this brewery makes 200 Koku, total. Wow, that is exceedingly small. Just for comparison, a medium sized brewery is going to make about 5,000 and a very large brewery can make 35,000 or more. So 200 koku is a true microbrewery. Like no joke. we all have a bottle of the, uh, the sake that Monica introduced to us. And I’m just gonna run down the stats here so that all our listeners can have a quick idea of what we’re drinking. So this is, a Junmai it’s also a Yamahai Muroka Genshu as Monica explained, the alcohol percentage is 16.5, the sake rice. Is Gohyakumanoku, which I understand is grown locally. And the rice milling rate for that gohyakumangoku, sake rice is 60%. And the SMV, the measurement of how sweet or dry is plus 3.5. Excellent.

John Puma: 16:58
So a little bit on the drier

Timothy Sullivan: 16:59
all right. And now I’m going to pour into the glass.

Monica Samuels: 17:09
it’s a beautiful color, it’s interesting, he said something a little, Cocky, I guess to me about, you know, the color, even though it’s Muroka, the color is so pale and it I’ve heard this from different breweries, but it does seem that the content of bronze and the water is really what gives the most color to the sake And so there’s just not bronze in this water. Like if you go to two saijo in Hiroshima, there’s a lot of bronze in the water there. And so Muroka sake is they’re quite pronounced where this is pretty pale.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:39
Yeah, but when you pour it in the glass, you do get a very light straw color. Like there’s a noticeable color here versus a charcoal filtered sake for sure. All right. Well, as we always do, let’s give it a smell. Okay. Now for me, Monica, there’s a very clear like lactic and, uh, so that’s like dairy and butter yogurt, kind of aromas coming through and also something a little earthy and mushroom me.

Monica Samuels: 18:08
100%. I always say this smells like buttered mushrooms, buttermilk savory yogurt.

John Puma: 18:16
Boom, Tim you’re on it. Yeah. I’m definitely picking up on that mushroom. We get it. There’s a note on the nose here that just in my mind, it this makes me think Yamahai,

Timothy Sullivan: 18:26
when we talked about Yamahai on the show in the past, we mentioned that, you can have a more overt, Yamahai style or something. That’s a little bit more nuanced in light. And I think this falls a bit more on the true overt Yamahai expression. Like he’s trying to show and declare this is a Yamahai sake that comes across in the aroma for me.

Monica Samuels: 18:48
For sure. Like, I mean, I think that Yamahai can add complexity in sakes that are very pretty and elegant. You know? Like Yuki no bosha Yamahai. I love that sake but it, it would be hard to blind them, taste that one as a Yamahai, this is pretty extreme. Like there’s definitely a, I get a smoked meat quality on the nose too, that I really love.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:09
Hmm. All right, let’s give it a taste., you know, what’s interesting for me is on the aroma and on the palate. The, uh, the alcohol is so well-integrated it doesn’t come across as boozy, or, you know, when, when you have these, fuller more earthy sakeies sometimes the alcohol can be a little bit forward as well, but this is really well integrated. It’s got a nice richness and the umami is like front and center, which is so great. And it, pairs really well with the aroma. It’s all very cohesive. That’s kind of what I take away from it.

John Puma: 19:44
yeah, I think, I think I, we talk about this on the show a lot. How, when we, we experienced the aroma and. In a, in a really well-balanced sake, we kind of want the, the taste to reflect that. And we’re, I think we’re totally getting that here with this. This is like the, the aroma is giving us a promise of what this is going to taste like. And then, when we sip on it, it’s like, yes, this is exactly what we anticipated.

Monica Samuels: 20:08
Oh, yeah. I love the texture on this one too. It’s really, it really, really coats your palate and even though it’s, there’s a lot about the sake that is aggressive. The balance is nice and that palette coating quality gives it the ability to tame intense flavors or in, in food. I mean, I, I tried this with kimchi and I thought it was going to be a disaster. uh, it was, it was just a cabbage kimchi, and it was medium level spicy and it actually worked together and the sake really Rose to the occasion.

John Puma: 20:42
Oh, wow. Um, do you have any, uh, any junk food recommendations to pair with this?

Monica Samuels: 20:49
well, beef jerky for sure.

Timothy Sullivan: 20:51
Oh, totally. Yes.

Monica Samuels: 20:53
There’s a cocoa note here, I. Was thinking a lot about donuts this weekend, because I’m doing this event, with the people in Portland, Oregon. And so voodoo donuts is so famous there and they have a bacon maple donut. That’s their famous flavor. And, I could see something like that going really well together.

Timothy Sullivan: 21:13
Hmm, that sounds amazing. a donut. Now you mentioned, we talked about the 200 Koku, the super small production. Does that present any challenges to you as far as getting supply or getting enough sake or I would imagine that that might be a little bit of a hurdle to get over as far as getting enough of the sake

Monica Samuels: 21:37
well, it was very, I felt really bad for him during the pandemic because we had almost no retail business with the sake And, retailers, weren’t interested in introducing new items when they were so understaffed. And, so we hadn’t ordered from him. We finally were able to order from him again, recently, which was great. We don’t have it available in all markets. We probably have this in five States in the U S and we try to communicate that it’s somewhat limited, but, he hasn’t pushed back on any orders so far. You know, I think he, he makes very, very small batches of his really geeky stuff. Like he does. He does a white Koji. sake does a black Koji sake, and those are all very, very tiny. So this would be his, the one he makes the most of out of the 200 Koku. And we haven’t, we haven’t hit a point where, he’s pushing back yet. So fingers crossed.

John Puma: 22:35
well, that’s good, that’s a very good thing, so this is, this is a Yamahai and it’s a, it’s a, I feel like it’s a, really a Yamahai lover’s Yamahai, I’m having this chilled, like I just took this out of my fridge maybe 20 minutes ago, my fridge is at 38 Fahrenheit, so. Uh, it’s, it’s probably warmed up to about like 41 42 at this point. is this something that you’d recommend having room temperature or warmed up,

Monica Samuels: 22:58
it’s really lovely, warm actually. Um, I’m having mine probably about between 55 and 60 Fahrenheit right now. And it’s, I used to be a lot more cautious about warming again, shoe sakes because I always felt like they would become busy. Um, but I think when the umami is this high and the acidity is this high, it’s it.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:22
Yeah, I would think this would be a no brainer for serving warm. You really, you can also, enhance that. Rich velvety coating texture as well. I find that that gets enhanced a little bit when you gently warm up a sake uh, and that that’s one of the great characteristics of this sake that you chose Monica, is that it does have that coating texture you mentioned. And I think that would be even more emphasized, served, warm.

John Puma: 23:48
Yeah. Yeah, Monica, what do you think that the sake industry needs to be doing to continue to grow internationally? And I guess even domestically, in Japan

Monica Samuels: 24:00
Well, I think America Americans, like when things are simplified for them. And so, and they also like when things are specific and I used to. Um, give my brewers a hard time about this all the time when they came to the U S and I would say, okay, well, can you recommend some food pairings? And they’d say, Oh, very, it will not interfere with any food. And I’m like, okay, well, that’s not really giving people any direction whatsoever. So I, you really need to, I think marketing sake in the U S it’s like, okay, well, if you’re having steak, you need to have Yamahai. And even if. There’s a bunch of Yamahai’s that don’t follow that trend if it’s okay. Just to give someone a very direct directions, because I think we, I think as educators and sake evangelists, we do pause a lot when people say, okay, so you’re saying that every time I have oysters, I should have ginjo and you’re like, well, not every time. And then people get frustrated. And so I think in America, we need to be very explicit and very, very clear about, you know, if you’re having. Broccoli, you need to have this type of sake, and, and it, because there’s not much of that kind of guidance and people are always asking, okay, well, every time I have a junmai, is it going to taste like this? And you have to say, well, not really, and so I think you have to just, forget about, the exception to the rule and give people very direct, instructions. And I think no for a long time, people thought that there needed to be a grey goose of sake or, you know, just a brand that was such a household name, and premium enough for people to take sake seriously. I don’t know how I feel about that anymore. I think that it’s good to have a go-to brand that can be a jumping off point, but I think that. We need to have these clear if you’re drinking this reach for this so that people can think about other, other opportunities to drink sake and in Japan, you know, I, I think that The current business model of selling sake domestically is really challenging for brewers to be profitable. Um, in terms of how little they’re allowed to Mark up their sakes domestically. And then it gives people sticker shock when they see the pricing overseas. And so I think there needs to be a little more of a balance there, and brewers should be allowed. It should be like the U S where producers are allowed to Mark up their products as they see fit. And then they can. They can charge less for overseas exports. So that it’s a little more equitable right now. I, I don’t see a lot of Japanese people excited to drink sake in the U S when they see that they can buy it for less than half the price domestically.

John Puma: 26:48
I didn’t realize that there was, uh, a ruling on that. And that’s why the, the markups are so low in Japan. I had no idea.

Monica Samuels: 26:54
It’s just the way that if you want distribution through a sake through a sake retail organization, they have very strict requirements on how low the markups must be.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:07
There’s the by the Japanese consumer, that sake is going to be at a certain range. And if you try to buck that trend and charge a lot for your sake Japanese consumers don’t really stand for that, right?

Monica Samuels: 27:19
a hundred percent.

Timothy Sullivan: 27:20
Yeah. Well, what do you think about for the, for the U S market in particular? I know everybody always, it says we need more education, education, education, and we all work in that area. Sometimes I think like, Oh, maybe we need, uh, a rapper to fall in love with sake and put it on his Instagram. What do you think needs to happen in that regard in the outskirts of education or culture in general, to bring sake more into the spotlight? What, what do you think needs to happen? This is the $64,000 question, but I always ask myself this.

John Puma: 27:57
interesting specificity with the rapper question though.

Monica Samuels: 28:03
well, I think that the rapper thing is not a bad idea because. Looking right now at the hard seltzer trend. Um, it’s very lifestyle driven, right? And people, the hard seltzer drinker, it’s very well defined who that is. Even if hard seltzer has no, no origin. We don’t know there’s no association with any country. There’s no, there’s nothing. Nobody cares. What’s in the can. It’s just the lifestyle that it promotes, being young and active and on a boat somewhere. And so. I think that there needs to be something like that because we have a lot of, we have a lot of the pieces, right? People are infatuated with Japan and Japanese culture. People love eating Japanese food, but that’s not doing it. there’s a desire for Japanese things, but it hasn’t, there’s not a lifestyle, hook there. So I think. I think a rapper could be an, interesting way to get that done. You know, I think someone like Chrissy Tiegen, you know, put getting behind the sake that could be great. I think more than an athlete, someone who is a, someone who’s a really beloved actor or, or, or musician, would be great to be a spokesperson for the category,

Timothy Sullivan: 29:19
Yeah. And if you look at what happened with the tequila market as well, uh, you know, that was not as popular in the past. And then a few really high profile celebrities started promoting their own tequila brands, and then it became this huge, huge sector of the spirits market. So that’s the sector I always look to as well for a little bit of inspiration in this area.

Monica Samuels: 29:40
it’s interesting too, because tequila is marketed as the only spirit that doesn’t. That’s not a downer, right? People always think of tequilas giving them energy. There are all these diets that like the keto diet that tell you that tequila is better than other alcohols. So it promotes this idea that tequila is going to make you a really fun party animal. Who’s not going to get fat and everybody, you know, that that’s a very attractive notion. So I think, I think it all comes back to lifestyle.

John Puma: 30:10
is it, if I’m not mistaken, isn’t a Naomi Osaka involved a little bit in sake these days.

Monica Samuels: 30:16
Yes. She is a spokesperson for Soto sake which I think is great. You know, Naomi Osaka, she’s such a role model for young women, she is such a role model for Foreign nationals of Japan, who don’t necessarily feel like they fit in, I think tennis is bigger outside of the U S in terms of how, how important to the brand that that could be. But I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

John Puma: 30:42
And I guess finally, last year has been, has been very rough and very unprecedented in a lot of ways, what do you think about the future of sake kind of going forward as we come out of the pandemic

Monica Samuels: 30:54
okay. Well, I think that the silver lining of the pandemic in terms of sake is that people are drinking a lot more adventurously at home and people are not relying on so much hand holding when they do step outside their comfort zone. We’ve been very active in the virtual space with events during the pandemic. And we’ve had really stodgy country clubs where they’ve never even ordered sake asking to do a sake tasting and the, um, the turnout’s been really good. I’m not sure what the coming back is going to look like. And I think as people promoting sake we all care. So much about the restaurant industry and the restaurant industry has always been the place where we really interest the most people the most to take care of our sakes and, um, and be able to communicate properly about them. And so it’s going to be interesting now that people know how to eat and drink a little better at home, And the restaurant industry is going to have to struggle so much to be profitable coming back. I do anticipate that there’s going to be more, more of a even split between sake sales in terms of retail and restaurant, because no matter what happens, I think people will be eating and drinking at home more frequently after the pandemic. and sake could be great for that because I know a few people. Feel comfortable delivering an answer on how long you can keep a bottle of sake open, but at any rate it’s longer than a bottle of wine. Right. And so, hopefully we can create a culture of people just having a bottle of sake open in the fridge without thinking of, Oh, well, I’m just buying this because we’re having sushi tonight. And, and we can get people to think more adventurously in general.

John Puma: 32:37
Yeah, that’s great. And that’s, that’s kind of in my journey when I was first getting into sake that’s kind of how it started for me. It was something I had at Japanese restaurants or izakayas, and eventually gotten to the point of, of it, of thinking of it, as you mentioned, not so preciously and just being something that I can have around the house, and not need a special occasion to drink.

Timothy Sullivan: 32:58
Monica. Thank you so much for joining us. Now, if people want to learn more about your work or about vine connections, what’s the best way for people to find out about your work.

Monica Samuels: 33:06
Um, I’m very responsive to emails. So please feel free to reach out to me anytime via email it’s [email protected] With an “S” at the end. We also have a fantastic website, our marketing team. Is really, well-versed in sake and has created some great assets there that give you information about the category in general and about our producers. So either of those ways would be excellent.

Timothy Sullivan: 33:35
fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining us. This was such a enlightening conversation. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

Monica Samuels: 33:43
Same here. I’ve been an avid listeners, so it’s, I feel a little nervous to actually be on the podcast, but it’s very exciting.

Timothy Sullivan: 33:51
Well, if you’re an avid listener, I hope you’ll stick around for just one more minute and join us in a kanpai at the end. All right. Well, I do want to thank all of our listeners so much for tuning in. We really do hope that you’re enjoying our show. And if you would like to show your support for Sake Revolution, one way you can really help us would be to take a couple of minutes and leave a written review on Apple podcasts. It’s one of the best ways for us to get the word out about our show.

John Puma: 34:19
If you’d also like, please subscribe to our podcast so that every week when we put out a new episode, it’ll magically show up on your device of choice and you can give it a listen and then tell a friend and then have your friends subscribe to.

Timothy Sullivan: 34:32
And as always, if you’d like to learn more about any of the topics or sakes that we talked about in today’s episode, be sure to visit our website, SakeRevolution.com for all the detailed show notes.

John Puma: 34:43
and if you have a burning sake question that you need answered, we want to hear from you. Please reach out to us. The email address is [email protected]. So until next time, please remember to keep drinking sake and.

Monica Samuels: 35:01