Sake, also known as Japanese rice wine, is a popular alcoholic beverage enjoyed by many around the world. It has a rich history and cultural significance in Japan, where it is often served during special occasions and ceremonies. Sake is made by fermenting rice, water, yeast, and koji (a type of fungus), resulting in a smooth and slightly sweet taste.
There are many different sake brands available, each with its unique flavor and brewing process. Some are brewed using traditional methods, while others incorporate modern techniques and ingredients. Sake can range in flavor from light and floral to rich and bold, making it a versatile drink that can be paired with a variety of foods. Whether you are a seasoned sake connoisseur or a curious beginner, there is a sake brand out there for everyone to enjoy.
A junmia daiginjo sake classifies the beverage as premium sake and tells the consumer how it's made. Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo Sake uses only koji, water, and rice milled at 45%, creating a mild sake with a soft mouthfeel. A sweet aroma accompanies this sake, along with sweet notes of grape, sugary candy, and a touch of lemon.
While milled similarly to daiginjo, brewers add yeast to this sake. Dewazakura Cherry Bouquet Oka Gingjo boasts an expressive nose with notes of peach, radish, and cherry blossoms. While this sake starts dry, it develops a creamy feel towards the middle and finishes bright, showcasing dried fruit flavors.
If you’re in the market for a more savory than sweet sake, try Sho Chiku Bai Junmai. Serve this sake chilled or warmed to experience different flavor notes. Heat the sake for a longer finish with intense umami elements combined with a toasty flavor. When cooled, Sho Chiku Bai Junmai brings slightly sweeter flavors like vanilla and fresh bread.
A sake from the Niigata region, Hakkaisan Junmai Daiginjo, uses spring water from melted snow in their brew. Though the sake is rich with floral notes in the aroma, it tastes clean, crisp, and slightly dry. This refreshing and light beverage has a slightly nutty taste paired with the mellow flavors of melon and apple.
Hakutsuru Sho-Une Junmai Daiginjo Sake hails from the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan, specifically Hakutsuru, a region famous for its sake production. This sake is best served at room temperature or chilled to highlight the dry, crisp profile. A smooth mouthfeel paired with slight floral and fruit notes makes this perfect for serving alongside rich or salty dishes.
The living jewels referenced by Tozai Living Jewel Junmai Sake are vibrantly colored koi that decorate the bottle. However, it’s a lot more than just the glitz and glamour. As a fresh-tasting sake that goes down easy, expect a nose with notes of white grape and anise. The taste comes through more complex with hints of citrus and pepper.
Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai is another example of a more savory sake, though it also contains some floral and marshmallow notes. These slightly sweet hints pair well with the umami, making this sake an award winner perfect for serving alongside most meals. This sake ends with a dry but long-lasting finish.
A uniquely acidic yet fruity sake, Yuki no Bosha Junmai Ginjo: “Cabin in the Snow” is perfect for strawberry lovers. You’ll smell berries in the nose along with mango. Despite all these fruity flavors, this sake isn’t overly sweet. Best served chilled or at room temperature, “Cabin in the Snow” pairs best with fresh foods like sushi or a snack plate with cheese and fruit.
Wakatake Onikoroshi Junmai Daiginjo: “Demon Slayer” has higher than average abv at 17%. Mellow tones of stone fruit and citrus round out the acidity of this sake. Enjoy at room temperature for the best flavor expression and a hearty mouthfeel. A sparkling finish with hints of honey characterizes this sake.
Like other spirits, sake comes in blended varieties for enhanced flavor. Gekkeikan Black Gold Sake is an example of this. A Japanese company that expanded to the U.S., Gekkeikan manufactures traditional sake in The Golden State. The mixed sake is robust with notes of honeydew and toasted nuts. Black Gold Sake finishes with a balanced and smooth finish.
A light and easy drinking sake, Kikusui Junmai Ginjo presents a bouquet of fruity flavors like banana and fresh melon. Despite these sweeter notes, the sake still has good umami in addition to a crisp and clean taste. An excellent sake for sipping or pairing with a variety of dishes, Kikusi Junmai Ginjo is considered one of the best sake brands for beginners and connoisseurs alike.
Fukujo “Mikagego” Junmai: “Green Label” has some fruity and floral notes but is also characterized by sour and mineral flavors. Some distinct umami flavors are also present, creating a perfectly balanced sake. Overall this award-winning sake has a rich but refreshing character, great for pairing with intensely flavored dishes.
A Japanese sake crafted with American palates in mind, Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto has a refreshingly earthy flavor. One of the most versatile sakes, it can be served at any temperature and pairs well with meats and seafood. This sake is slightly cloudy with a velvety smooth finish. This sake is an excellent option for those that don’t prefer fruity flavors.
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In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.