Diplomacy at Ambassador Wines

AmbassadorI had my very first trip to Ambassador Wines on the Upper east side recently. This is one of the most well known sake stores in the city. Now, normally I don’t run to the liquor store on my lunch hour to stock up on sake, but… this was an exception. I was up in midtown on the WEST side of 54th street for a business conference, and i knew that Ambassador was on the EAST side of 54th street. I had always wanted to go there and check out the sake selection… and I think this was as close as I was going to get – I was on the same street – so I went for it. This involved race-walking across 54th st from 6th ave to 2nd ave in sub-zero temperatures. I had an hour to get there, buy the goods and walk back. When I finally found the place, I walked in and was immediately surprised to see how cramped it was. wine was everywhere. The sales person asked me what I was looking for and I said “sake…”

In no time, I was whisked to the entrance of their “sake cellar”. This is a refrigerated sake room about the size of a small Manhattan walk-in closet. well, it’s bigger than my closet! Then I was handed off to the in-house expert sake-salesman. He asked what kind of sake I wanted – I said I’d like a “moderately priced DaiGinjo” (who wouldn’t?!)

ChiyonosonoHe offered me Wakatake… Been there! He offered me Mu… Done that! I was shown a few other DaiGinjos that were really expensive. hmmmm. We moved on to Ginjos. I must say, the Sake salesman at Ambassador was an expert. He knew his stuff! Normally, I would talk to him for hours, but I was on the clock and I had a 25 min. walk ahead of me and a conference to get back to.

He showed me Chiyonosono Junmai Ginjo… “Sacred Power” from Kumamoto Prefecture (Seimaibuai: 55%, Rice: Shinriki, Yeast: Kumamoto, Nihonshu-do: +2.5, Alcohol: 15.9%, Acidity: 1.5). This sake had a striking label with red letters and a beautiful frayed paper edge – it was even protected with bubble wrap! His description of the taste was of orange notes. Now, this really caught my attention and in the end I ran out of time, so I went with the Chiyonosono. I had never heard of a sake that tasted of orange!

Only problem, this one didn’t. When I got it home, the sake was full and delicious, but tasted to me more of a crisp pear than anything else. I wasn’t upset in the least – it’s all good – life’s just one big tasting in my book. And given Ambassador’s selection and service, I think they deserve diplomatic immunity from grumpy sake snobs.

I’d rate this sake 3 out of 5 sake bottles.
[rate 3.0]