In Japan, Sake is considered a drink for traditionalists and elder people but across the Western World it is becoming more and more popular. You can pick up a bottle of sake in most supermarkets these days but anybody who is genuinely interested in the flavours and different types of Japan’s national drink will look to buy sake online.
Sake is made from what is known as brewer’s rice, which is different to the rice that it traditionally eaten. It is considered a rice wine and the rice is fermented like in traditional wine making. More than 80% of any bottle of sake bought in any country around the world is water and many of the Sake breweries are intentionally based near quality water supplies, natural spring water streams and other areas where there is a good supply of fresh mineral water. If you are looking to buy Sake for the first time keep the following tips in mind:
1. Check the Grain Polishing Percentage
This sounds a bit strange out of context but the percentage of grain polishing in any bottle of Sake relates to its quality. It relates to how much of the outer layer of the grains of rice have been polished away. The more of the layers that have been polished away, the more expensive the sake and the better the quality too. You will see percentages from the 90s to 40s for grain polishing and the lower the better is always recommended.
2. Understand the Different Varieties of Sake
There are a huge range of different sake varieties but most fall into one of the five following categories:
- Junmai: pure rice sake. No distilled alcohol is added and it is a rich and full bodied wine which is traditionally served hot or at room temperature
- Daiginjo: A fragrant and full-bodied sake which is often seen juxtaposed and blended with Junmai as in our Hakurakusei Junmai Daiginjo from the Niizawa Sake Brewing Co.
- Ginjo: Described as the most fragrant of sakes available, Ginjo sakes have a lighter, fruitier flavour than the alternatives on the market and is popularly served chilled.
- Honjozo: similar in character to Junmai, the only difference in Honjozo sake is that a little distiller alcohol is added. It acts as a smoothing agent and has a light character and flavour, as seen in Akita Shuri Seizoh Co. Takashimizu Honjozo Sake.
3. Look at the Filtering
Sake is available in both clear and cloudy varieties. However, it is legally required that all sake is filtered. Cloudy sake may say ‘unfiltered’ on the bottle but this simply isn’t the case and if it is a little cloudy or creamy, it simply has added sediments to affect its appearance. This kind of sediment-rich sake is usually labelled ‘Nigori’ and needs to be shaken or mixed before serving.
Many people are now seeing the fantastic flavours and subtle differences between the different sakes on the market. Opting to buy sake online allows you to choose from a range of different styles and invest in a wider selection of varieties.