It's been around since about the 3rd century, but sake -- the heady alcoholic beverage made from sending rice through fermentation/brewing process -- can still be something of a mystery to even the sophisticated New York palate (it's this knowledge gap that prompted Southern Wine and Spirits to organize the weeklong event). Like, why is some sake served chilled, and some warm? (Depends on the season and the quality of the sake; the colder the air, the better the brew, the hotter the sake.) What's the difference between Nigorizake and Seishu? (The former is cloudy, the latter is clear.) And finally, why do you get plastered really fast on some kinds of sake, while others you barely notice? (Most sake is diluted with water before bottling. Stick with Genshu -- or unfiltered sake -- to get the party started; its proof is as high as 20%, much higher than most wines.)
Get a crash course in sake knowledge citywide: The Feedbag reports that more than 100 NYC restaurants (from Chinatown Brasserie to Megu to Ed's Lobster Bar) will celebrate with pairings, tastings and educational programs all week long. At very least, head to your neighborhood sushi parlor and raise a choko to the lovechild of booze and rice.