Sake Basics

Sake, the national drink of Japan, has been brewed continuously for at least 1,000 years. Once reserved for the elite of Japanese society, it is now enjoyed by all.

Today, Sake is produced throughout Japan, but the art of Sake brewing was born in the southern region known as "Nada," where Miyamizu spring water is filtered through the rock strata of the Rocco Mountains.

Quality Sake is produced from highly polished rice. All rice contains fat, proteins, and starch. Polishing the rice removes the fat and proteins, leaving the starchy core. Quality Sake are made from rice kernels that have had at least 25% of their surface removed.

Types of Sake

Many of these types of sake are available at the restaurant. Check out our sake menu for more information on what we have in stock!

  • Junmai sake is made from rice that has been polished at least 30%, thereby removing most of the fats and proteins to yield a full, rich flavor. The addition of grain alcohol is not permitted. Junmai sake can also be of Ginjo or Daiginjo quality.
     
  • Honjozo sake also have at least 30% of the rice removed by polishing, but a small amount of grain alcohol is added to smooth and lighten their flavor. Honjozo sake can also be of Ginjo or Daiginjo quality.
     
  • Ginjo sake must be made from rice that has been polished at least 40%. Ginjo sake are usually brewed longer and at at lower temperatures than other sake in order to maximize the flavor of the rice. Ginjo sake can range from dry to slightly sweet and are usually light, fruity, and refined.
     
  • Daiginjo sake are made from rice that has been polished at least 50%. Most quality producers exceed that and polish at least 65%. Daiginjo sake is usually light, complex, and fragrant.
     
  • Nigori is an unfiltered sake whose remaining rice particles give it a milky appearance. Most are slightly sweet.
     
  • Genshu is undiluted sake. Before bottling, pure water is added to most sake to adjust the alcohol content from the naturally occuring 20% down to about 16%. Genshu is sake to which water has not been added.
     
  • Tokubetsu is a term reserved by brewers to indicate the sake is special in some way—often by the use of a particular brewing technique or specially designated rice.
     
  • Nama sake are unpasturized and are usually light and fruity.

Drinking Sake

Sake may be enjoyed slightly warmed, chilled, or at room temperature. The appropriate serving temperature for Sake is dependent on the type of sake, the occasion, the food, and ultimately personal preference.

Higher quality sake should be served chilled, as warming may mask delicate flavors. However, there are some high end Sake whose flavors are enhanced when warmed. Basic Sake can be very enjoyable when served this way as well.

Sake is best consumed within one year of release in order to enjoy the flavors as the brewer intended. Sake will not "go bad" after this time, but it often becomes more intense and concentrated in flavor.