What is Sake
Sake is a beverage created from rice, water, koji-jin (enzyme), and yeast, usually with an alcohol content around 15% about that of wine. Sake is brewed like a beer, but it is served like a wine. Premium sake is usually served slightly chilled, while lower grades of sake are often served warm. Sake is best enjoyed with lightly prepared fish, chicken, pork, vegetarian, and Asian cuisine.
How is Sake Made
The gist of the Sake brewing process from step to step is:
1. Rice is polished
2. Koji rice is prepared over a two-day period
3. Steamed rice and cultivated koji are sent to the yeast starter room, and the moto (yeast starter) is prepared over a 2-week period.
4. The moto is transferred to a larger tank, and over a period of four days, rice, water and prepared koji are added into the tank, roughly doubling the volume of mixture each time.
5.The moromi (fermenting mixture) run sits course over a period of 18-32 days.
6. The sake is then ready for filtration, separating the unfermented solids from the clear sake.
7. The sake is aged, pasteurized, and blended as required.
Also known as just Junmai is sake brewed using only rice, water, koji and yeast. The name means "pure rice", an indication that no brewer's alcohol has been added to the final product. Often full bodied and slightly acidic, Junmai goes well with a wide variety of foods. Tokubetsu Junmai is "Special Junmai" sake that uses sake rice that has been milled to 65% or less of its original size.
Sake to which a small amount of brewers' alcohol has been added. This is added near the end of the fermentaion process, just before filtration. Honjozo sake is generally lighter than Junmai and can be very nice at room temperature or warmed. The brewer's alcohol has the bonus effect of brining out the aroma of the sake quite nicely.
Ginjo Shu is sake made with rice polished to the extent that the outer 40% of each grain has been ground away. This is only the beginning, however, as each step of the Ginjo brewing process is performed with painstaking attention, Care is take not to crack the rice grains during polishing, fermentation proceeds at lower temperatures and for longer periods, pressing is often done by hand. This extra effort produces a sake that is layered and complex, lighter and more fragrant.
Dai Ginjo Shu is usually referred to as just Daiginjo, is actually a sub-classification of Ginjo-Shu. At least 50% of each grain of rice has been polished into oblivion, and the various brewing processes are handle with even more care and attention. Light and more fragrant than Ginjo, is not everyone's favorite as it can be too light and delicate. But it does represent the top of the sake line.
There are more types of sake that will take much more time to read though. This includes Futsu-Shu, Nama-Sake, Genshu, Koshu, Nigori Sake, Infused Sakes, and others. If you are curious as to what each type is please refer to the links page and the information presented by Sake-World.
Sake: NO Hangover!?
Premium sake, even when one may overindulge, is nearly hangover free. Why? Congeners, thought to cause hangovers, are generated from the impurities in an alcoholic beverage. the main source of congenres in sake are the proteins and fatty acids in the outside portion of the rice kernal. Since premium sake uses rice milled down to less than 70% of the original kernal size, most of these impurities are eliminated. As they say in Japan: You know good sake the next morning.
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Jizake Special selection of Sakes produced through ancient tradition from Japan's countryside.