How to find yourself a favorite sake from thousands of them?
It is often to hear that the travellers come to Japan and express the feeling of “sake has too many different kinds, its very confused.” To be honest, Japanese sake is a profound acknowledgement. Most of people found their favorite sake in izakayas or bars by luck, afterwards this particular sake will be ordered once they go for drink. If you are planning to stay in Japan for a while, this might be an opportunity to find your favorite sake. However for short-term stay travellers, this article might help you to gain a clear picture of sake.
Sake is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin that is made from fermented rice, water and kouji only. The brewing process for sake is very special, Japnese called it either “sake” or “shu” which is different from shōchū. The alcohol content differs between different sake which is around 15% ABV, the alcohol content is lower than normal shōchū. There are more than 1,600 brewing mills in Japan. Generally a brewing mill produces many kinds of sake, therefore the category of sake contain more than 5,000 kinds. There is some sake with very strong rice smell, or some with fruity taste depends on customers' demand. Due to so many kinds of sake, it is very difficult to believe that sake is made of water and rice only.
How to find the one which will suit our demend from thousands of them? A way to find out is “classification.” There are two kinds of sake, one is “Tokutei Meishoushu” and other one is “Futsuu-shu.” The raw materials and produce method as well as rice milling (Seimaibuai) are strictly controlled and fixed for “Tokutei Meishoushu.” Rice milling (Seimaibuai) with increased milling, the unwanted components will be removed more in order to produce better sake.”Tokutei Meishoshu” purposes be considered “Premium sake.”
On the other hand, without strictly controlled is Futsuu-shu, so “Tokutei Meishoushu” will taste better. Based on ”Tokutei Meishoshu” has been diversed into two kinds: “Ginjo-shu”, “Junmai-shu”, “Honjozo-shu”.
”Ginjo-shu” using highly polished rice and fermented at colder temperatures for longer periods of time. It has aromatic and fruity smell and refined taste, normally drink it without heat it up.
“Junmai-shu” made with rice, water and koji mold only, without any pure distilled alcohol, suitable for both hot and cold.
“Honjozo-shu” has been made with very small amount of pure distilled alcohol to suppport flavor and aroma. It suits to drink after heat. To be more detailed, Honjozo-shu can be classified into eight kinds as “Daiginjo-shu”, ”Junmai Daigingo-shu”, ”Ginjo-shu”, “Junmai-shu”, “Junmai Ginjo-shu”, “Tokubetsu Junmai-shu”, “Tokubetsu Honjozo-shu”, and “Honjozo-shu.”
Another way to find sake is just directly go to izakayas and ask them for recommendations.
People usually use “sweet” or “spicy” to discribe flavor of sake. “Sweet” contains sweet aroma which taste stronger with denseness. “Spicy” is not as we thought of chilli, its more likely to lighter and fresh texture. If you would like to order sake with “sweet”, you can say “Amakuchi No Nihonsyu Wo Kudasai” which means “I would like to order sweet sake, please” in Japanese. If you would like sake with “spicy”, you can say “ Karakuchi No Nhonsyu Wo Kudasai.”
In addition, its very instreseting when you order sake for the meal. If you would like express the meaning of “please give me sake which match with my food”, you should say “Knon Ryori Ni Au Nihonsyu Wo kudasai.” Nevertheless, if you already have favorite one but still like to try other kind of sake, you can also say “Kono Nihonsyu Ni Chikai Aji No Mono Wo Kudasai” which means “please give me sake which has similar taste of this.” Please do not feel hesitate to ask questions, you will definitely get lots of fun and enjoyment.