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Sake – Top Bestsellers Japanese Rice Wine

Sake is also known as Japanese rice wine. The sake definition is simply ‘alcohol’ in Japan but what we usually consume is in fact called ‘nihonshu’. The sake pronunciation is “sah-kay”. This alcoholic drink is the national beverage of Japan that has been enjoyed for centuries!

What is sake made of? Sakes are an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. It is brewed using highly polished sake mai rice, water, a mold known as Aspergillus oryzae and yeast.

The best sake is aged for a year or more. Sake alcohol content ranges between 15 to 20 percent although the alcohol content of sake like Genshu (strong undiluted sake) may have more than 20 percent.

There are various different grades of sake. With around 70 rice varieties used for its production, the three main types are actually called yamadanishiki, gyohakumangoku and miyamanishiki. Other types of sake include amazake, genshu, jizake, koshu, kuroshu, muroka, namazake, nigorizake and more!

Sometimes it comes in the form of hot sake (atsukan) and sometimes it is served cold (reishu). But how do you serve sake? To put it simply, high-quality sakes like the DASSAI 45 Junmai Daiginjo should be served slightly chilled whereas cheap sakes should be warmed up. The temperature of sake actually depends on the personal preferences of the drinker as well.

To prepare hot sake or warm sake, it is first poured into a ceramic tokkuri, which is placed in a bath of hot water. The ideal temperature of hot sake is about 50 degree celsius and for chilled sake is at 10 degree celsius.

Some may wonder how sake and cooking sake differ? They are actually produced similarly. The only difference is that cooking sake utilizes rice that has a higher polishing ration so that it has a bolder rice flavour and that it has the added ingredient of salt.

What does sake taste like? Sake wine is slightly sweet and clean-tasting. It is smooth and light but leaves an aftertaste. Fruity and nutty aromas are common but the aroma will usually disappear after a few minutes once poured into a glass.

How to drink sake? Usually enjoyed during appetizers, this Japanese drink is sipped while enjoying light appetizers such as sashimi and is not often a part of a larger meal. Associated with ceremonious or formal occasions, sake liquor, for example, symbolizes the unity of two families at weddings. However, nowadays, Japanese sake is also mixed into cocktails such as the sake-tini and sake mojito.

It is respectful and polite to wait for everyone to be served their sake and then raise a glass for a toast. Cheers in Japanese is ‘Kanpai!’ The sake glass called Ochako sake cups are raised and touched together but be mindful of seniority and status as it is polite for the lower status person to ensure the rim of the cup touches below the rim of their senior.