New Year’s Day is probably the only day in the year when drinking at 10am in the morning is perfectly acceptable.
Last year, it was the beautifully pink and bubbly 13th Street Cuvee Rose NV, bought from Heavenly Vines in Ebisu, Tokyo during sakura season because anything, and I mean anything, remotely related to sakura sells like hotcakes.
For all I know, they probably even make limited edition sakura hotcakes during that season in Japan, and they would sell like… hmm… hotcakes-ception?
There’s no sakura involved in making the sparkling wine, but when you pour it out and see the alluring hue, you can immediately see the connection. It tastes as good as it looks, although it’s a distant second to my all-time favourite, the 13th Street Blanc de Noir.
Sticking with tradition, we opened another bottle of bubbly on the first day of 2021 and promptly started day-drinking. This year, it was the intriguing Migaki-Ichigo Mousseux NV made from 100% strawberries grown in the Miyagi prefecture of Japan.
I read about it somewhere many years ago and searched for it when I was travelling regularly to Tokyo for work. Strangely, I couldn’t find any bottles to bring back, though to be fair, I didn’t really search very hard.
It remained elusive until we saw it being sold on Shopee Singapore, and it was a no-brainer. After it arrived last year, it sat in the vegetable compartment of the fridge, patiently waiting for new year’s day to be popped open.
The first thing that struck me was the colour. It wasn’t strawberry-red but more amber, or as The Wife described it, salmon. Ok…
We poured out two glasses — one in a traditional champagne flute, and the other in a bigger wine glass. If that sounds strange to you, it shouldn’t, because champagne is essentially white wine with bubbles.
When the bubbles subside and the champagne goes flat, you’re basically left with wine and you can taste what it really tastes like. The science behind it is that you get to stick your nose into the wine glass and a large component of taste actually comes from smell.
In the case of the Migaki-Ichigo, that was definitely the case. The underlying strawberry note was more pronounced when we drank it from the wine glass. From the first whiff, it’s immediately obvious that it’s made from strawberries. Surprisingly, the first sip from the champagne flute didn’t result in a strawberry bomb.
The taste was more subtle, maybe just 10% of what a typical strawberry jam tastes like. You can still tell that it’s strawberry but it’s not overwhelming and cloying, which is a good thing. Drinking from the wine glass brought that up to 20% and definitely allowed it to shine.
So, we’ve been drinking progressively throughout the day and the bottle is almost finished. There’s still a small amount left, enough for one last glass, which we’ll save in the fridge for tomorrow.
Would we buy it again? Most definitely. But not immediately as the vegetable compartment is starting to fill up again. If you’re a fan of strawberries, and if you ever see a bottle on sale, I’d recommend that you snap it up before it disappears.
When it comes to wine, grapes dominate, but there are many other fruit alcohols that are yummy too, including lychee wine from Thailand (yes, Thailand!) from the impressive sounding Knight Black Horse. I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical before I tried it, but was happily convinced after actually trying it out.
Another example is the incomparable yuzu sake from Umenoyado, which as I described in an earlier post, was “citrusy with a pleasant bitter afternote, swimming in a sea of smooth sake.”
The next time you come across a bottle of wine that’s not made from grapes, take a closer look, give it a chance but it back home to drink. You might find that you actually like it.