Is Sake a Wine or a Liquor?
Sake is a traditional, alcoholic beverage from Japan. It is made from water, rice, koji, lactic acid and yeast. Sake is made by brewing, like an ale, but in flavor and strength is more like a wine. The average alcohol content is around 16%. A little higher than most wines but less than half that of most liquors.
In truth, sake is a generic term, in Japanese, for all alcoholic beverages brewed or distilled from rice. In the west we use it to describe nihonshu 日本酒 which is the brewed wine-like beverage now widely popular in much of the west,
WLTV - Sake Education show - Part 1
- The Sake Education Show Part 1 Episode #693
Beau Timken from True Sake visits the Thunder Show to teach Gary Vaynerchuk about Sake.
Will I enjoy Sake?
If you enjoy german white wines, such as, peisporter. hock or leibfraumilch you will almost certainly enjoy sake. With over 700 sake breweries in Japan there is a vast range of types of sake to choose from each with their own unique qualities and traditions and sake enthusiasts claim to be able to pair you with a sake you will enjoy. If you live in Los Angeles, San francisco or New York there are specialist stores that will advise you and of course sell you some excellent sake. Here is a link to the two part special on sake produced by Wine Library TV hosted by the irrepresable Gary Veynerchuck and featuring sake expert Beau Timken
koji rice impregnated with the mold Aspergillus Oryzae
Water and rice are familiar to most people,I am sure, but what is koji?!
Koji is the 'starter for the fermentation and consists of rice impregnated with the spores of the mold Aspergillus Oryzae. Koji is used in the production of other Japanese fremented products such as Miso and Tofu.
Rice has been cultivated in Japan for over 2000 years, and is the country’s most important crop.
The skill of the brewers is critical to the quality of sake
What makes good Sake?
Sake can be purchased and enjoyed for around $12-14 a bottle but some sake is $500 a bottle. What makes this sake so much more desirable? The answer is three things go into the making of a good sake and affect the quality of the brew.
- Water - The quality of the water used to make the sake is crucial in the quality of the final outcome. Some sake is are made from snow gathered from the peaks of Japan's mountains.
- Rice - Specialized sake rice is used in the production of sake. The rice is milled to reduce the amount of husk it contains the husk must be milled thinner without puncturing it or the starch within will be released too quickly causing uneven fermentation. Whether the rice used was milled 90%, 80% or more is considered a measure of quality or Seimaibuai
- Skill - The skill of the brewers in working the rice during the process of impregnation with koji and the susequent fermentation is critical to the final product.
sake casks on display at a shrine during one of the many Spring festivals
sake can be enjoyed in these stemless wine glasses preserving some traditional feeling
Learn more about sake
- SakeSocial.com: Online shopping for premium Japanese Sake.
Come to buy sake, learn, question, interact, buy, and discover the best Japanese Sake in the world. We have one of the best selections of Sake online and continue to grow.
Should sake be served warm or cold?
Many people believe that sake is best served warm. In American sushi bars this has become the norm and saki is served in small ceramic jars which are heated to about 45 degrees in warm water. This is not necessary with the finer grades of sake as long as they are no older that 12 months or so. (The approximate best before date for conventional sake). In fact each brand of sake has its own peculiar temperature for optimum enjoyment. Served at room temperature or even chilled like a fine white wine, sake is best enjoyed in a spacious wine glass which allows the delicate flavours and aromas to emerge.
Getting Serious with Sake
For years sake has been regarded as a cultural novelty. Something to accompany japanese food as part of the overall experience. Not any more. Sake is being enjoyed more and more in it own right and the chances are there is a selection of it in your local market and liquor store. With a little self-education and perserverence you will be able to find highly enjoyable sakes at reasonable prices throughout the US