Japanese sake has been a popular alcohol all around the world. Needless to mention, Japanese sake, or Nihonshu as it is called in Japanese, is the very thing you need to try when you visit Japan or if you are staying in Japan. This post will be a perfect guide for all who want to take their first step into the wonderful world of Japanese sake.
Nihonshu (日本酒), Japanese sake is made from fermented rice. With the global spread of the Japanese cuisine, Japanese sake had become popular around the world.
In order to make a good-quality Japanese sake, you need a clean good water source, rice, koji mold, and some yeast to ferment. Made in brewers in many places around Japan, the only clear upper part of the whole resulting substance is bottled as "nihonshu". Generally, Japanese sake has an alcohol content of around 15 percent.
In order to make Ginjo and Daiginjo, the sake needs to be fermented at low temperatures for a long time. For this reason, Ginjo and Daiginjo are a little bit more expensive compared to the other types of Japanese sake. Their characteristics are the fruity and light tastes.
Junmai (Pure rice sake) is a type of Japanese sake made only from pure rice and koji mold, adding nothing else. Since the ingredients are the simplest, you can straightly enjoy the taste of pure water and rice.
Compared to Junmai sake, Honjozo is a type of Japanese sake made from rice, koji mold, and some additional alcohol in order to smoothen the taste or the smell of the sake. It is the most common type of Japanese sake.
Special types of Japanese sake
Namazake is a kind of sake which has not been pasteurized. As a result, Namazake has a very fresh flavour. Since it will not last long, it would be better to drink it as fast as you can.
Nigorizake is a kind of sake which has skipped the filtering part of the production. Without being filtered, Nigorizake is cloudy looking and even contains some fermented rice solids. The taste of Nigorizake is often sweet and tart.
Amazake is actually quite different from the types of Japanese sake listed above. Amazake is a Japanese sake-like drink which small kids drink at the national holiday of Japan Kodomono-hi (Children's day) They are usually low-alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The sweet taste of amazake is loved by not only children but also to adults too.
Cool your Japanese sake below 20 degrees Celsius and enjoy. This style is called Hiya in Japan and is probably the most common way to enjoy drinking your Japanese sake. Hiya style perfectly fits with almost any kinds of Japanese cuisine. The next time you order a Japanese sake at a restaurant, just say, "Hiya de!" (Please serve in Hiya style!)
Some brewers even recommend enjoying Japanese sake on the rock style like whiskeys. Mizorezake, or Koorizake, which is half-frozen style is another style you can try.
Nurukan (ぬる燗): Warm style
Nurukan, is a style for which the sake is lightly warmed up to about 30 to 40 degrees Celsius. The most interesting feature of the Japanese sake is that its taste changes with the change of its temperature. It is quite difficult to keep your sake warm but definitely worth a try!
Atsukan (熱燗): Hot style
Making Atsukan style is very simple. just indirectly heat your Japanese sake. Be careful not to boil it, as it will ruin the taste! About 60 degrees Celsius will be fine. Tastes just so great during the winter season!
Enjoy your Nihonshu with Sake set!
In order to enjoy your Japanese sake 100%, you surely will need to prepare your sake set. Sake set is a pair of unique-looking container "Tokkuri" and shot glass looking small cups "Ochoko".
When you cool or warm up your Japanese sake, it would be a better idea to first pour your sake into the tokkuri. Cooling the container will not disturb the flavour of the sake.