Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice. It is made through a brewing process similar to beer, and has a higher alcohol content, around 18 - 20%% alcohol which even when diluted still reach around 15%% alcohol.

Sake is served chilled, at room temperature, or heated. It all depends on the preference of the drinker. Sake can also be used as a mixer for cocktails, but they are most used for ceremonial use like the Shinto purification rituals.

There are two basic types of sake: futsū-shu (普通酒) and tokutei meishō-shu (特定名称酒). Futsū-shu, "ordinary sake," is the equivalent of table wine and accounts for the majority of sake produced. Tokutei meishō-shu, "special designation sake," refers to premium sakes distinguished by the degree to which the rice is polished and the added percentage of brewer's alcohol or the absence of such additives.


Other names: Rice Wine
Translations: Labad, Wzgląd, कारण, Causa, Сакэ, Χάρη, ساكي, 사케, Saké, Kapakanan, 酒, Bé, Zaradi, Saké, Amor, סאקה, Саке, 酒, Saké, Bien, Саке, Саке

Physical Description

Sake is also referred to in English as rice wine. However, unlike true wine, in which alcohol is produced by fermenting the sugar naturally present in fruit, sake is made through a brewing process more like that of beer. To make beer or sake, the sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from starch. But the brewing process for sake differs from beer brewing as well, notably in that for beer, the conversion of starch to sugar and sugar to alcohol occurs in two discrete steps, but with sake they occur simultaneously. Additionally, alcohol content also differs between sake, wine, and beer. Wine generally contains 9–16% alcohol[1] and most beer is 3–9%, whereas undiluted sake is 18–20% alcohol, although this is often lowered to around 15% by diluting the sake with water prior to bottling.

Colors: light brown

Tasting Notes

Flavors: sour
Mouthfeel: Juicy
Wine complements: Rice wine

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Just the way it takes a special kind of grape to produce a good wine, making excellent Sake requires the use of a special type of rice. The secret is to have a variety boasting a high starch content in the core of each grain. That way the rice will stay intact longer during the brewing process, enabling excess oil and protein to be removed. Such a rice is called "Shinpaku-mai" in Japanese. All of the rice that goes into TAMANOHIKARI is the highest quality Shinpaku-mai, coming from the famous rice producing districts of Bizen-Omachi(Okayama Pref.) and Yamadanishiki(Hyogo Pref.). This has allowed TAMANOHIKARI to earn the appellation "superb Sake".

Procuring: 1. Using an entirely different cultivation system from ordinary rice growing, we produce much taller rice plants that are used in the high-grade Sake brewing process.
2. The grains of high-grade Sake-making rice are larger than those of ordinary rice and contain a white opaque core in the center that carries solely starch.
3. By polishing a grain of high-grade Sake-making rice down to less than half of the original covering, we can remove the protein and fat from outside the white core. The result is Junmai-Dai-Ginjo Sake (purely rice-based refined Sake), with an aromatic flavor, yet without the fatty acid that causes a hangover after drinking.
4. Ordinary rice grains do not contain this pure white core in the center. Protein and fat are spread throughout the grain, therefore even a high degree of polishing cannot effectively remove the protein and fat.
5. Normally the rice grains used in Japanese Sake are polished to remove only about 27% of the original covering, while the polishing process used in TAMANOHIKARI carries away 55% of the outer cover. In addition, many of ordinary Japanese Sake carry an additive of Treacle Alcohol, not found inTAMANOHIKARI.

Preparation and Use

There are also, of course, rules and laws that strictly define what Sake is. Within these laws, Sake is officially known as "Seishu" and is defined as one of the following.

1. Fermented from rice, rice-koji (the mold used to convert the starch in rice into fermentable sugars), and water, and then pressed through a mesh (to strain away the solids and yield a clear beverage).
2. Fermented from rice, water, Sake-Kasu (the lees that remain after pressing Sake; these can still contain fermentable elements), rice-koji, and anything else accepted by law, and then pressed through a mesh.
3. Sake to which Kasu has been added, and then passed through a mesh.
In Japan sake is served chilled, at room temperature, or heated, depending on the preference of the drinker, the quality of the sake, and the season. Typically, hot sake is a winter drink, and high-grade sake is not drunk hot, because the flavors and aromas will be lost. This masking of flavor is the reason that low-quality sake is often served hot.

Sake is usually drunk from small cups called choko and poured into the choko from ceramic flasks called tokkuri. Saucer-like cups called sakazuki are also used, most commonly at weddings and other ceremonial occasions. Recently, footed glasses made specifically for premium sake have also come into use.

Another traditional cup is the masu, a box usually made of hinoki or sugi, which was originally used for measuring rice. In some Japanese restaurants, as a show of generosity, the server may put a glass inside the masu or put the masu on a saucer and pour until sake overflows and fills both containers.

Conserving and Storing

In general, it is best to keep sake refrigerated in a cool or dark room, as prolonged exposure to heat or direct light will lead to spoilage. Sake stored at room temperature is best consumed within a few months after purchase.[citation needed]

After opening the bottle of sake, it is best consumed within 2 or 3 hours.[citation needed] It is possible to store in the refrigerator, but it is recommended to finish the sake within 2 days. This is because once premium sake is opened, it begins to oxidize which affects the taste. If the sake is kept in the refrigerator for more than 3 days, it will lose its "best" flavor. However, this does not mean it should be disposed of if not consumed. Generally, sake can keep very well and still taste just fine after weeks in the fridge. How long a sake will remain drinkable depends on the actual product itself, and whether it is sealed with a wine vacuum top.


Sake is often consumed as part of Shinto purification rituals (compare with the use of grape wine in the Christian Eucharist). Those sakes, served to Gods as offering prior to drinking, are called Omiki or Miki (お神酒又は神酒). During World War II, kamikaze pilots drank sake prior to carrying out their missions.

In a ceremony called kagami biraki, wooden casks of sake are opened with mallets during Shinto festivals, weddings, store openings, sports and election victories, and other celebrations. This sake, called iwai-zake ("celebration sake"), is served freely to all to spread good fortune.

On the New Year many Japanese people drink a special sake called toso. Toso is a sort of iwai-zake made by soaking tososan, a Chinese powdered medicine, overnight in sake. Even children sip a portion. In some regions, the first sipping of toso is taken in order of age from younger to older.

History: The origins of sake are unclear; however, the earliest written reference to use of alcohol in Japan is recorded in the Book of Wei, of the Records of Three Kingdoms. This 3rd century Chinese text speaks of the Japanese drinking and dancing. Sake is also mentioned several times in the Kojiki, Japan's first written history, compiled in 712. People used sake for spiritual functions because people who had it got a fever.
Regardless, by the Asuka period, true sake - made from rice, water, and kōji mold (麹, Aspergillus oryzae) - was the dominant alcohol. In the Heian period, sake began to be used for religious ceremony and people seldom drank it. Sake production was a government monopoly for a long time, but in the 10th century, temples and shrines began to brew sake, and they became the main centers of production for the next 500 years. The Tamon-in Diary, written by abbots of Tamon-in temple from 1478 to 1618, records many details of brewing in the temple. The diary shows that pasteurization and the process of adding ingredients to the main fermentation mash in three stages were established practices by this time.Today, sake has become a world beverage with a few breweries springing up in China, Southeast Asia, South America, North America, and Australia. More breweries are also turning to older methods of production.

While the rest of the world may be drinking more sake and the quality of sake has been increasing, sake production in Japan has been declining since the mid 1970s.[6] The number of sake breweries is also declining. While there were 3,229 breweries nationwide in fiscal 1975, the number had fallen to 1,845 in 2007.[7]

And now, 1 October is provided the day of sake (Nihon-shu).



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