Sake is a Japanese alcoholic drink made from fermented rice, koji (rice malt or yeast made from rice) and water. There are different opinions as to the true origins of this rather unique beverage, but two books thought to be written around 713AD reference an alcoholic drink made from rice which may show exactly how old this traditional Japanese drink may be. The word ‘sake’ in Japanese, is also generally used to refer to alcoholic drinks.
Sake has maintained its popularity and there are now around 1,600 Japanese breweries producing it. Niizawa Brewery Company has a history of producing Sake that dates back to 1873. The Sakes produced here are dry and are a good match with seafood dishes, for example Kishinamien Umeshu Plum Sake. Tenzan Sake Brewery was first established in 1875 and is based in the north western part of the island of Kyushu. Their focus is on brewing the highest quality sake, by using the best quality rice and work closely with rice farmers, to continue to improve the quality of their Sake, for example Shichida Junmai Ginjo Sake.
Quality Sake is a versatile drink that can be paired with many dishes, but it is generally recommended to drink it with Japanese cuisine. Just like traditional wine, Sake can be enjoyed on its own, but it is recommended that if you aren’t going to eat a meal with it, have a salty snack with it instead.
Some sakes can be consumed at different temperatures. The same drink can taste significantly differently dependent on whether it’s served hot or cold, so it’s worth experimenting to discover which you prefer.
Sake sometimes make an appearance at Japanese Shinto-style wedding ceremonies. The bride and groom traditionally take it in turns to sip Sake from three different sized bowls. Sharing from the bowls is considered to be representing the couple sharing joys and sorrows.
There are some traditional customs often followed when drinking Sake. For example, if you are drinking it in the company of others, then it is traditional that the younger person first pours for the older person. After someone has poured Sake for you, it is considered to be a polite gesture to hold the cup up with one hand and put the other hand underneath the cup. After doing so, you should then take a sip and return the cup to the table.
Sake may be considered to be a simple drink, but it certainly has an enduring charm and popularity that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Browse The Fine Wine Company’s full range of Sake.