Category Archives: Rice Wine

Wines made from rice

Sai Gon Wine

Found this at an honest-to-golly supermarket in Ho Chi Mihn City.

Ruou Sai Gon.  A form of distilled rice wine.

Here’s underground Portland beverage maven Trevor M. using his phone to research this bottle which has almost zero english on it.  He brought up this overview of this category of beverage:

Interesting early translations included “pear” and “sand” and eventually “glutinous rice”.

How does it taste?  I’d say it tastes “OK”.  It clearly has a rice character, and I could easily be convinced that there’s a pear note in there.  I don’t have documentation on what it set me back, but if it was more than $5 I’m sure I’d have remembered.  Is it great? No.  But try to find something this good for under $5 in Oregon or Washington.

Tasting new things from far away places = fun!

Oysters and Saké One

Hey kids! Join the club, you know you want to! Joyce joined the club at Saké One and as a result we were there today and this happened:


Take a look at the menu.  “Stinging Nettle Oil” – ok, who the heck thinks up these things?  Truth or Bullshit?  Our server told us this story: “They make it themselves.  You have to be really careful as the stems are poisonous.”  This much I know is true – that oyster was the best of the six very fine oysters.

Here’s Joyce making the face of sadness:

Hats off to Saké One for a stunning lineup of shellfish!  We enjoyed the saké as well.  My personal fav:  Has a particular taste and mouthfeel, honestly demands more study on my part.

Momokawa / Saké One

Would you believe we make saké here in Oregon?  It’s true:

And should you head out to Forest Grove, you can see it for yourself. They do tours three times a day (as of this writing at least) and they’ve built a fine tasting room:


For a reasonable fee you can taste their saké and selected imports from Japan. The tasting room also has a special offering – draft saké that hasn’t been aged or processed in any way.


We completely forgot to write down the name of the Saké we took home, but here it is being poured into a growler. Jim suggested creating a saké cocktail by adding a generous slug of St. Germain. We did try this later and it is indeed scrumptious.

Vinn Distillery


This is Matthew, our tasting guide at Vinn Distillery’s tasting room in Portland’s Distillery Row.

If you’ve read any number of our other posts one of my interests is in the science of perception and how the environment around any food/beverage product is presented affects how it tastes to you. This continues to be a life-long study.

This blog focuses on the experience of tasting. There are so many great flavors out there, so many great products to buy. What makes us open our wallets and buy is something more than what’s on the plate or in the glass. Let’s see what we can learn, shall we?

We got a hearty greeting from Mike as we came in, and he graciously let us park our giant bike in the tasting room so the seats would stay dry. Vinn has an interesting history and story. In short they produce a Chinese style distilled spirit that’s made from rice. From what I could gather in our short introduction, there are some similarities in production to sake, but it’s not the same.  Definitely worth stopping in and hearing the story for yourself.

Their number one product is a big drink in China – Baijiu. My favorite product they have there is the Mijiu Fire, which is made from the black rice.

I’m a sucker for a good story and learning new things. Had fun here, definitely will return.

– Steve

When Jerez Met Shaoxing

Wine image
Rice Wine or Lice Wine?

This week’s discovery: sometimes, if you can’t get an exotic ingredient, it’s because it isn’t any good.

Having been on something of an asian cooking kick recently, I noticed that I kept seeing recipes that called for Shaoxing rice wine, which is more or less impossible to find here in Pennsylvania.  The longer I went without any, the better is sounded.  Finally, the grass growing intensely green, and sucked in by the marketing promises of  “drinking quality” rice wine, I asked my friend Steve to pick some up in Portland and ship it to me.

Here’s the thing about the phrase “drinking quality.”  There are people in this world who drink Sterno, too. Continue reading When Jerez Met Shaoxing