The Art of Making Sake

The Art of Making Sake

Sake History

It is a symbol of Japan and famous all around the world, Japanese sake which is associated with Japanese culture can sometimes be very complex and hard to understand. Let’s learn a little bit more about it!

What is Sake?


Until 1868 and the beginning of Meiji Era (1868 – 1912), Japan had closed its borders and restreint their business with the outside world. Until then the majority of Japanese people only knew one type of alcohol drink made from rice fermentation.This drink was called Sake 酒 (meaning alcohol in Japanese). But once the country opened its borders, other alcohols started to appear, like whisky, beer… All of them were generally referred to as Sake, so they had to find a new name for the Japanese alcohol made from rice fermentation. This alcohol was then called Nihonshu (日本酒 Japanese Alcohol).

Today Sake is produced everywhere around the country and represents a big part of its culture. Possessing some knowledge of Japanese Sake allows you a better understanding of Japanese Society and Culture.


Source: JapanTimes

Process of Creation

Rice being the main ingredient, Sake is a fermented drink also containing Koji (which is a fungi) and yeast. It is said that there are 3 different factors to a good production of sake: Waza, Mizu and Kome, meaning the technique, the quality of the water and the quality of the rice and how it has been polished.

Sake is generally between 13% and 16% alcohol, and recently there is a new variety of Sake: « non-alcohol sake » for people who do not drink alcohol.

There are two varieties of rice being produced in Japan: the one used for cooking and the one used especially for Sake production. It is a longer and more tender grain than the usual rice, and it has a low amount of protein.

Contrairly to Wine which has only one main process of fabrication, Sake has many more processes: After the rice is polished, Koji (fungi) is added so the starch contained in the rice transforms into sugar. The yeast will then be added to finish the process!

How To Enjoy Sake?

This is the interesting part: How to enjoy Japanese Sake! There are a lot of elements to take in consideration when drinking Sake:

• Temperature: Sake can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. Temperatures can go from 5°C to 55°C

• Classification: This drink can be divided in 4 categories: tasty, light, rich and old

• Materials of the cup: When you drink Sake, you usually drink it from a small glass, a wooden cup, …, which can alter the taste of the drink!

• The season: Depending on the season, the type of sake we drink will be slightly different!

• Food: According to the type of cuisine or the ingredients you will eat, one kind of sake will go perfectly with it. Sake can be Amakuchi (sweeter) or Karakuchi (Dryier)

• The occasion: Whether its for a wedding, new year, a party, for Bonenkai or any other occasion, the Sake will be ifferent.

If you want to see more about Japanese Sake, check out this video by 2min Japan about the Sake Creation Process!

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