A dedicated sake store with rare varieties of rice wine has opened in the aisle behind Dame

Portland’s first store dedicated solely to sake is now open in a sweatshop lane, serving varieties you’ll never find in your average neighborhood sushi restaurant.

Sunflower sake open in late fall at 5427 NE 30th St., next to Dame: the wine shop and restaurant known for hosting pop-up kitchens in its dining room.

The sake store is stocked with a carefully curated selection of around 125 bottles, all available for purchase. Those who prefer to taste and then engage can also take advantage of the on-site tasting room, where you can sample rice wine by the glass, carafe or bottle as well as an assortment of homemade snacks. Take-out food from the concentration of restaurants in the area is also allowed.

“My focus is on hand-made sake, which is harder to find and has a unique history,” owner Nina Murphy said in a press release. “Sunflowers are a great next step for someone who has enjoyed sake in restaurants and wants to learn more and taste more.”

An example of a unique sake accessible at Sunflower and few other places is hiyaoroshi, a style that is pasteurized once and then left to age during the summer before being marketed in the fall. The result is a rich, nutty drink, making it a natural partner for more hearty fall dishes, and the name itself refers to the onset of cold.

Expect to find rotating seasonal programming at Sunflower, because, as Murphy puts it, sake “follows a schedule like beer.” So just as you would expect to find more Maibocks in the spring, Märzens and fresh hop beers in late summer and early fall and more hearty stouts or barley wines in winter. , sake is also inspired by the change in temperature and how that change affects our palate.

Murphy is in the process of making the switch from wine to sake, having worked in sales for a small local distributor and as a harvest and viticulture intern in the Willamette Valley. She also plans to graduate from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust next year, a program that has given her the knowledge to translate the nuances of sake to wine lovers.

“Customers rarely know what type of sake they like, but most understand their wine preferences,” says Murphy. “Sake and wine are different, but they have some common attributes.”

The intimate retail store opens to heated and covered outdoor seating which is shared with Lady. Hours are limited – noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday through March – but you can expect a number of Sunflower-hosted events throughout the greater Portland area, including a pop-up sake night. along the South Waterfront, courses and an evening of Russian food, which pays homage to the cuisines of Murphy’s childhood.

“I spent the last three years of my career studying wine intensely, but I often felt out of place or even belittled in wine merchants,” she says. “Sake doesn’t have this baggage: it’s a clean slate, no controls, no rituals. Everyone is enthusiastic, curious and eager to learn. I would love to keep it that way.

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