Temp Note: This sake can be served at a variety of temperatures, but the Assorted Table staff enjoys it chilled at about 50ºF.
Sake is produced by fermenting specific rice varieties with koji, yeast, and water. Koji is a mold that breaks down the starches in the rice into smaller glucose molecules. Yeast will then begin to gobble up those molecules and turn into alcohol in a fermentation process called multiple parallel fermentation. Like in wine, the yeast strain used can have a big impact on the final sake’s aroma and flavor profile. (While we may draw a parallel to wine or beer fermentations here, it is important to note that Sake is truly in its own category and neither a beer nor wine that is ‘simply made from rice’.)
What’s with these percentages?!
Rice for Sake production is often milled or polished prior to fermentation. This establishes the grade of Sake which is typically classified by the maximum amount of rice remaining. As a generalization, Sake with a lower polish rate, like Honjozo, will be heavier, earthier, and more savory. Sakes that are polished more, like Daiginjo, will be lighter, fruitier, and be more delicate.
Main Polishing Rates
Junmai or Honjozo 70% or less of rice grain left
Junmai Ginjo or Ginjo 60% or less of rice grain left
Junmai Daiginjo or Daiginjo 50% or less of rice grain left
Junmai translates to “pure rice” and indicates that the sake has no brewers alcohol added. Due to the type of fermentation, Sakes can naturally ferment to much higher alcohol levels (15%) but producers may choose to add brewers alcohol for stylistic difference or a drier finish.
How to enjoy this beverage with company:
- It is perfectly acceptable to enjoy chilled Sake in a goblet style wine glass. Warmed sakes are best served in a small ceramic cup.
- Pour for your tasting buddy first. It is custom in Japan to pour for your neighbor or guest first. Good manners, duh.
- Toast each other by saying Kanpai (kuhn-pie) which means “Cheers!” or “drink your cup dry”
- Then, drink the vessel or carafe dry!