Picture report

Following Luxembourg’s first sake challenge

Sake sommeliers on 22 October met at the residence of the Japanese ambassador to Luxembourg to try a variety of sakes. 

Organised by Global Link in collaboration with the Sake Sommelier Association (SSA), the event was the first edition to take place in Luxembourg. Over 160 bottles of rice wines were imported from Japan and other countries like Mexico, to be tried out by 18 sake sommeliers. At the helm of the event team were Global Link directors Makiko Gräfin von Oberndorff and certified sommelier Yves-Martin Boisclair.

The aim of the event: put Japanese rice wine on Luxembourg’s gastronomic radar. “There are many sakes,” explains Makiko. “We planned to do this around a year ago, because we participated at the London Sake Challenge as judges and we thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce people in Luxembourg to sake.” While some non-Japanese venues offer sake, Makiko and Boisclair want to show that sake can have many flavour profiles.

A common misconception the duo want to dispel is that sake is best consumed on its own. “Different types of sake can be paired with different foods. You can even pair it with pizza! And what sake works best with is cheese,” Makiko explains. The Japan Life event that followed the Sake Challenge was the first chance to introduce a wider audience of guests--some of which are part of the hospitality federation Horesca--to the many aspects of sake. 

The sakes presented to the sommeliers on Saturday morning were submitted by brewers who wish to test their product in the hopes of earning a quality label. Equipped with a smartphone app, the sommeliers judged the wines on their aroma, appearance, taste and their potential for being paired with food. The winners of the first Luxembourg Sake Challenge will be revealed in a month, when the jury has looked at the sommeliers’ feedback.