Sake Rice Wine Information

Sake Barrel Sake is known by most non-Japanese as the hot drink served at the local slice-and-dice - no strong flavor, but a potent punch. Sake is actually a very diverse set of flavorful rice wines, dating from the 3rd century.

Sake Terms

  • Seishu - the legal name for sake.
  • Jizake - non-mass-produced, or "hand-crafted", sake
  • Kimoto - an ancient method for making sake which nearly vanished in the late 1800s, which a few sake makers are reviving. It involves NOT using commercial lactic acid to start up the yeast mash. This is much more challenging for sake makers but they say the resulting complexity is worth it.
  • Koji - steamed rice that has been cultivated with koji-kin - the koji mold. The mold provides enzymes which create sugars for fermentation. This molding process is key to sake creation.
  • Nihonshudo - the sake meter value, measures the density of sake relative to water. It indicates the dryness or sweetness of the sake. Other factors also influence the flavor of sake - temperature, water type, etc.
  • Nigori-zaake - unfiltered sake.
  • Namazake - unpasteurized sake. Should always be stored chilled. It has a very fresh flavor.

Sake Types

  • Junmai-shu is pure rice sake. Only rice, water, and the koji mold are used to produce this top level sake. It ends up tasting heavier and fuller than other types of sake. It uses less than 70% polished rice - this means they have "ground away" the other 30% of impurities.
  • Honjozo-shu has a small amount of distilled ethyl alcohol added during the final stages. They then add water later so the alcohol content stays the same. This sake is lighter and dryer than other types. It can be served warm.
  • Ginjo-shu uses 60% polished rice. It is also fermented for longer periods of time, giving a complex and delicate flavor.
  • Tokubetsu is a style of junmai which is really the same as a ginjo. The word "tokkubetsu" means "special" in Japanese.
  • Daiginjo-shu is just like Ginjo-shu, but polished to 50% of the original size. It takes even longer to brew and complete.
  • Futsuu-shu - any sake which does not fall into one of the above four categories.

The Word "Sake"


Sake Links

Wine Types Main Listing