To accompany Ryan Clift’s rich wagyu beef, wine expert Britta Wiegelmann holds back with an understated sake.

It’s said that a rich dish needs a powerful wine. Really? In my experience, the exact opposite sometimes works. Think about it: faced with a naturally noisy counterpart, do you try to drown them out or is it more effective to lower your voice? Contrast, not competition. That is also the principle behind my choice of wine to accompany the wagyu beef. The meat from this Japanese breed of cattle is rare and costly – at several hundred Swiss francs per kilo. It is characterized by a beautiful marbled effect. Unlike the lean meat from other cattle breeds, wagyu is interlaced throughout with tasty fat that practically melts in the mouth. And which wine can be paired with it? Instead of sending in a heavyweight to wrestle with Ryan Clift’s wagyu beef with Jerusalem artichoke, horseradish burrata and Japanese tomatoes, I have opted for quiet tones. The delicate, floral, fragrant sake envelopes the creamy meat and harmonizes with the rice vinegar and tomatoes, thanks to its discreet acidity. By the way, there’s one thing that sake and wagyu have in common: both offer a real burst of umami on the palate. Umami is the fifth taste that can roughly be translated as “delicious” or “savoury” in English. Inadequate words to describe such a fabulous flavour sensation. There’s only one thing to do: try it!

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