Sake, pronounced sah-kay, is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin made from fermented rice. Unlike wine, sake is produced by means of a brewing process more like that of beer.
Types of Sake
In general there are five basic types of sake. Each requires different brewing methods and different percentages of rice milling. Naturally, there are other special brewing techniques that are less common. Below we have included the five main types listing the rice polishing ratio. Rice polishing ratio is the percentage of the rice that remains after the husk, or outer portion, of the rice is removed.
Pure rice wine; no adding of distilled alcohol. Junmai no longer requires a specified milling rate. It will be listed on the label.
At least 30% of rice polished away; a tad of distilled alcohol is added.
At least 40% of rice polished away; with or without alcohol added. If the bottled is labeled Ginjo, it means distilled alcohol was added. If labeled Junmai Ginjo, it means no alcohol added.
At least 50% of rice polished away; again with or without added alcohol. If the bottle is labeled Daiginjo, it means distilled alcohol was added. If labeled Junmai Daiginjo, it means no alcohol added.
Special 5th designation for unpasteurized sake; incorporates all of the above four.
While not a requirement, sake etiquette can help expand your knowledge of a different culture and add to your next sake endeavor. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind while drinking sake.
Hold the flask with one hand at the top palm facing down when pouring.
Politely bow your head in appreciation when your cup is filled.
Pour a cup for yourself. Someone else should pour it for you as a social bonding experience.
Don’t pour into the cup while its resting on the table. The recipient should always hold the cup with both hands when receiving sake.