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Sake

Sake is usually used to refer to rice wines produced in Japan. In English, this beverage is called sake, but in Japanese, the word sake refers to all alcoholic beverages, and Japanese rice wines are called Nihonshu.Click "read more" to learn all about how sake is produced and classified.

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Sake Production and Classification

Sake is made through a brewing process much like that of beer. With beer, the conversion of starch to sugar and then to alcohol occurs in two steps. With sake, these processes occur simultaneously. The shuzo kotekimai used for sake production is called sake rice, which is not suitable for eating. These grains of rice contain a starch called shinpaku, which is used to make rice wines like sake.

Sake made from rice containing pure starch has a higher quality taste. The taste of Japanese rice wine depends on the balance of the starch and sugar content through the proper combination of malt, yeast, water and steamed rice. This balance is achieved from skilled artisans who have experience understanding minute year-to-year changes in climate, rice production and water quality.

There are a few main designations of sake:

  • Daiginjo is a special designation of Japanese Sake, made from rice, Koji rice, and distilled alcohol, with a rice polishing ratio below 50%.
  • Ginjo is a special designation of Japanese Sake, made from rice, Koji rice, and distilled alcohol, with a rice polishing ratio under 60%, and a Koji rice content of 15% or above.
  • Honjozo is a special designation of Japanese Sake meaning "genuine brew." Honjozo is made from rice, Koji rice, and distilled alcohol, and it has a rice polishing ratio of under 70%.
  • Junmai is a special designation of Japanese Sake meaning "pure rice." Junmai sake is made from rice and Koji rice, and it has a rice polishing ratio of under 70%.
  • Junmai Ginjo is a special designation of Japanese Sake meaning "pure rice, special brew." Junmai Ginjo is made from rice, and Koji rice and it has a rice polishing ratio of under 60%.

Makkoli is a kind of flavored Korean rice wine with a milky color and a milk-like sweetness notable for its rough filtration. Makkoli is usually shaken or stirred before serving in order to maintain its consistency. Makkoli is increasing in popularity throughout Korea and Japan, and manufacturers have recently been standardizing its flavors and growing the industry.