The Wine Company’s Saké Handbook

Case Study

Our friends at The Wine Company recently created this saké handbook to share a bit of the history and culture of saké, as well as some tips for getting the most out tasting and enjoying it. We love pocket guides like this, so we asked them to share a bit more about the story behind the books!

Can you tell us a bit about The Wine Company?
The Wine Company is a local, family-owned distributor of fine wine, sake – and now cider! – in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our fearless leader, Larry Colbeck, had previously flourished in a retail wine shop, and with his crazy passion for it, realized an increasingly receptive audience when it came to more esoteric, compelling wines. TWC was founded in 1985 to answer the cries of the geek niche and started bringing those wines to restaurants and retailers around the Twin Cities. We now proudly import and distribute offerings from around the world, with a focus on family-owned and operated wineries, many of which farm organically, biodynamically, or sustainably.

What prompted you to make this saké handbook? What made you choose Scout Books?
We take our jobs as purveyors of fine beverages seriously (but not without fun or humor!), which includes our commitment to knowledge and education of not only our staff, but our customers and the public as well. So, we do our best to make that information accessible, entertaining and most importantly – unintimidating! Sake is oftentimes a very mysterious drink to some folks. We just wanted to share the love and a pocket Scout Book is the PERFECT vehicle for getting good tidbits into the hands of consumers.

The teal and white covers are beautiful! Who designed these?
Those were designed by us in-house, a mash-up of some traditional images that subtly pay homage to the importance of rice and water- especially from the mountains! We wanted to give it a fresh, silky feeling. Kind of like sake itself.

How are the books used/distributed?
Scout Books are used primarily by our sales team as fun educational materials for our restaurant and retail partners, but we happily try to get them into the hands of consumers as well. We tend to host a lot of events on a regular basis, so we always have some books available at those as well. Over the years we’ve done books that cover a number of different topics, such as French wine, Champagne, Italian wine, Wine 101, SOBs (Sustainable, Organic & Biodynamic wines), and a fun little bathroom reader… so we always have something pertinent available.

The book is full of fascinating history and information on saké. Did any information in the books surprise you?
Part of the fun of the wine/sake industry is there is always something new to discover, no matter how long you’ve been in it. When we are working on a project, we of course tap in to our own knowledge, but research is crucial to making sure we deliver the most accurate information possible. I wouldn’t say I was surprised by anything… more in awe. There are a few of us that do both the research and writing, so I can only speak for myself in this case, but I am continually flabbergasted by the meticulous amount of care that goes into every step of the sake-making process. And the history! Completely captivating and incredibly ingrained in Japanese culture. Whole books could be written about that alone!

Do you have a favorite brand/kind of saké?
Well, let me tell ya, it’s tough work when we have to taste-test through dozens of sakes! Personally, I tend to favor the funky and drift towards offerings that use the kimoto or yamahai methods because they tend to take on a more “wild” flavor. But that’s just me. There are so many different styles and brands available nowadays it’s crazy, so I’d be doing a disservice to narrow the scope too much. I just recommend that people drink more sake! Like anything, just explore and have fun with it.

We will take your advice! Thanks to Kerri and The Wine Company for taking the time to speak with us. You can find more about The Wine Company on their website.