Okunomatsu Sparking Formula Nippon

Okunomatsu Sparking Formula Nippon

Are you a little tired of the same old shoddy champagne? Well, kick that brut to the curb and this year, try something new to tickle your nose as you ring in the New Year. Sake seems to be the eternal up and coming underdog, but to be honest, the selection of sparkling sake available in the USA has never been better. Referred to in Japanese as “happo-shu”, sparkling sake undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle, just as champagne does, so you won’t miss a single bubble with the switch from grapes to sake.

Sparkling Sake is usually low in alcohol, so expect a light and breezy alcohol content of 5-8%. Also, note that most sparkling sake is sold in small bottles (180ml – 300ml) to facilitate a quick consumption, for as with other sparkling tipples, the fizz will fade relatively quickly after opening. So, to keep the sparkle alive, drink early and drink often! Let’s take a look at my top 5 picks for the best in New Year’s Eve Sparkling Sake!

Okunomatsu Formula Nippon Junmai Daiginjo Sparkling. Let’s start at the top! This sparkling sake is amazing! Interestingly, it was originally brewed specifically to allow the Formula Nippon race car drivers to spray Junmai Daiginjo Sparkling sake instead of champagne at the winners circle. However, if you don’t even own a car, you can still enjoy all the luxury this sake has to offer. I had a chance to taste it at a 2008 Japan Society event and it was smooth and bubbly on the palate with enchanting fruit notes in the aroma. A masterpiece well worth the price, this sake can be enjoyed for any important celebration. If there is any equivalent to the very finest champagne in the sake world, this is it!

Hou Hou Shu

Hou Hou Shu

Chikurin Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Junmai. The quintessential sparkling sake, this delight can go toe to toe with champagne any day. There is a wisp of nigori in this low alcohol brew with a delightful sparkle on the palate. I find it has a great balance of sweetness and acidity! Enjoy Hou Hou Shu as a perfect way to start a meal or as a way to celebrate!

This sake comes from the celebrated Chikurin Brewery in Okayama Prefecture in Japan. Their attention to every detail makes this a sure fire winner.

Hana Hou Hou Shu

Hana Hou Hou Shu

Chikurin Hana Hou Hou Shu Sparking Junmai. This sake is a sister brew to the Hou Hou Shu above. It’s a low alcohol nihon-shu infused with rose petal and hibiscus! Light and refreshing on the palate, this is an immensely popular sake in the USA.

Once people try the Hana Hou Hou Shu, they seem to come back to it again and again. It certainly stands out on a vast sake list you may find on a restaurant menu. Given the low alcohol and unique taste, this is a great sake for toasting that special event.

Dewazakura Tobiroku

Dewazakura Tobiroku

Dewazakura Tobiroku Sparkling Ginjo. Do you enjoy your New Year’s Eve drink a touch on the dry side? Thinking all these sakes may be too sweet? Check out Dewazakura Tobiroku! It’s a somewhat rare dry sparkling sake. This delightful brew is for those who like their sparkling sake on the crisp side. A touch of nigori adds a bit of texture, but this is foremost a light, brisk bubbly that is easy to enjoy.

The English name for this brew is “Festival of Stars”. If you’ve ever seen the firework festivals in Japan, it will give you a good idea of what they are after.

Harushika Tokeimeki

Harushika Tokeimeki

Harushika Tokimeki Sparkling Junmai. Quite full in sweetness, this sparkling sake balances that with a higher acidity. This sake is very, very refreshing and is a textbook example of a perfect aperitif for your evening meal. I have also paired this sake with fresh fruit in the past to great effect. Pairings with crisp apples seem to work best in bringing out the delicious fruity sweetness in this sake. It’s light and will tickle your nose for sure. Again, I can’t overstate the sweet fruit profile that comes across on the palate for this sake. This is a wonderful sake to demonstrate how unique and delicious sake can be.

So, there you have it. Take a walk on the wild side and give sparkling sake a try this Dec 31st at midnight. They say whatever you do on New Year’s Eve, you will do for the rest of the year… and if that happens to be drinking sparkling Nihon-shu, I can’t think of any better way to spend the year. Kanpai and happy 2009 to everyone!


  1. Tan

    August 24, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    sparkling sake is one of the finest drink made by man for all mankind
    among some of the best is listed below
    if you canat find it in Canada come over to USA in the heart of the Rastifarian bazar of Portland
    street called Belemont and 34th Ave
    look for or ask for the nearest Grocery store which is also one of a kind super Organic food best of the best
    and most of all its all fresh and healthy stuff the staff that works there are hand picked people’s pleasing group
    The name of the Sake is :\
    Zipang / in the prettiest bottle you have ever seen
    Hana-Akawa in a pretty pink Bottle
    Hope you have a pleasureable experience
    please write a line or two and let every one know how was your experience best wishes from a Sake Lover
    Tan :)

  2. Pingback: Explosive Great Taste for New Year’s Eve Sake | UrbanSake.com

  3. June

    June 14, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Anybody know where to get sparkiling sake? Is it available in most liquor stores? I live in Vancouver Canada, nothing here!!!

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