NORBERT WEBER (GERMANY)

20181203 JAPAN:    Sake, what is this?

Japanese Sake is now also known in Europe, but unfortunately circulate a lot of myths, legends and false ideas about the Japanese sake, which often lead to misunderstandings in the West.

This starts with the term, because most people outside of Japan always consider sake for rice wine.

But that is not correct, because behind the generic term Sake hides a variety of alcoholic drinks.

The rice wine, which is what most people refer to when they say sake, is available in Japan under the name Nihon-shu, meaning „Japan-alcohol“.

But even with the Nihon-shu there are a variety of variants, all of which have their own characteristics.

When drinking sake, it is also very often wrongly assumed that the drink is always served warm.

What used to be like that in the past has long since ceased to be right in any case, because there are very fine variants that, depending on your preference, can even be drunk chilled.

Not surprisingly, choosing the right temperature for sake can do the wrong thing.

Many consider the sweet rice wine to be a much too warm broth that they did not even taste much.

If you have had such experiences, it might be worth taking a look at the subtle differences in Japanese sake.

The answer from the Western point of view is Japanese sake is a traditional, alcoholic beverage from Japan.

It is a rice wine that can be drunk both hot and cold.

It is made from special sorts of sakere which are fermented.

The higher the degree of polishing of the rice grains to a fraction of the original size, the stronger the refining and the aroma of the rice wine.

Sake is drunk hot from small cups and cold traditionally from square cedar wood cups.

Today, cold sake is even served in wine glasses. No problem then.

As well as wine, the different types of sake are suitable for different types of food.

The quality span is very far.

From the simple pleasure of the can to very exclusive varieties that can contain gold leaf or are stored in style for decades in traditional wooden barrels, is for the sake specialists everything to have.

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Saketypes:
A systematic representation illustrates the different degrees of sake.

The higher the level, the higher the level of quality and price.

The six sackets described  belong to the premium class (Tokutei Meishoshu) and account for about 20% of the sake production in Japan.

Of these, in turn, the top four types of the „Ginjo-Shu“ series can be referred to as Super-Premium sake. They account for about 6% of Japan’s total sake production.

„Futsuu-shu“ is similar to the category of table wines and does not qualify as premium sake.

As a rule, a considerable amount of distilled alcohol is added to this variety in order to subsequently increase the amount.

The proportion of this species amounts to approximately 80% of the total Japanese sake production.

Some of these sakes are added with both sugar and organic acids to enhance the taste

None of these sakes contain any preservatives.

Despite the classification, there is a lot of overlap between the groups, so the scheme shown on the next page is for orientation only.

There are a variety of Sakesorten, which do not belong to the premium class, but are also very unique and particularly enjoyable.

The decisive factor is ultimately the individual taste.

Why is the rice being polished?
The starch needed for the fermentation to make sake is at the core (!!!) of the rice kernel (other rice is used for the production of sake than for consumption).

The outer layers contain fats, proteins, amino acids and other ingredients that can have a lasting effect on the taste.

If these layers are polished away before fermentation, the result is a sake that is clearer, more elegant and „more refined“ while at the same time highlighting the natural flavors.

As a simple definition, the higher the degree of polishing of the grains of rice used in brewing, the higher the degree of sakes.

For example, the outer shell of the rice kernels in the Junmai-Shu and Honjozo-Shu is peeled off to 30%, leaving behind about 70% of the original rice grain for making the sake.

For the percent polishing grade, only the minimum requirements for brewing sake are given here.

Often the rice is polished more than is required depending on the degree.

For example, with Daiginjo-shu, rice is often reduced to 35% of its original size, i. 65% of its outer shell has been peeled off.

flavor profiles
Junmai-SHU:
The taste is usually a little heavier and fuller than that of other varieties. The acidity is also slightly higher.

Junmai-Shu names pure sake without additives such as sugar, starch or alcohol.

Honjozo-SHU:
The taste of Honjozo Shu is rather light and often a little dry. Honjozo-Shu is added a little distilled alcohol to round out the taste and to highlight the flavor.

Honjozo-Shu also likes to be drunk warm.

GINJO-SHU:
The taste is more complex and delicate than that of Junmai-shu or Honjozo-shu sake.

During production, special starch and lower fermentation temperatures are used.

But these labor-intensive techniques create a taste and aroma that is often fruity and floral at the same time.

Daiginjo-SHU:
Daiginjo-Shu is an improvement of the Ginjo-Shu. The rice is peeled before production to 50% often even up to 35%.

The production is carried out with even more care to create this absolute premium sake.

NAMAZAKE:
Namazake is sake that has not been pasteurized. It should always be stored refrigerated or the taste and clarity may suffer. Nemazake has a fresh, lively aftertaste.

All types of Japanese sake:

(Jumai-Shu, Honjozo-Shu, Ginjo-Shu and Daiginjo-Shu) can be Namazake.

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Sake ranking   Rank-episode
Without added alcohol and with added alcohol

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Junmai Daiginjo-shu

From the category of Junmai Ginjo-Shu. Very high degree of polishing of the rice grains (at least to a size of 50% **).

Extremely precise and especially labor-intensive method of production.

The forefront of brewing.

Light, full-bodied and with a fragrant bouquet.

🌐🌐🌐

Daiginjo-shu

From the category of Ginjo-Shu. Very high degree of polishing of the rice grains (at least to a size of 50% **).

Extremely precise and especially labor-intensive method of production.

The forefront of brewing.

Light, full-bodied and with a fragrant bouquet.

🌐🌐🌐

Junmai Ginjo-shu

Brewed in labor-intensive steps.

The use of machines is avoided, instead traditional devices and methods are used.

High degree of polishing of the rice grains (at least to a size of 60% **).

Fermented at cold temperatures for a long time.

Light, fruity and aromatic.

🌐🌐🌐

Junmai-shu

Made only from rice, water and koji mold.

The rice is polished to a size of at least 70%. Full, strong and clearly defined taste structure.

Tokubetsu Junmai-shu (Special Junmai Shu) refers to a higher degree of polishing of rice grains or the use of a special sherry variety.

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Daiginjo-shu

From the category of Ginjo-Shu. Very high degree of polishing of the rice grains (at least to a size of 50% **).

Extremely precise and especially labor-intensive method of production.

The forefront of brewing.

Light, full-bodied and with a fragrant bouquet.

🌐🌐🌐

Ginjo-shu

Brewed in labor-intensive steps. The use of machines is avoided, instead traditional devices and methods are used.

High degree of polishing of the rice grains (at least to a size of 60% **).

Fermented at cold temperatures for a long time.

Light, fruity and aromatic.

🌐🌐🌐

Honjozo-shu

Made with rice, water, koji mold and a small amount of distilled alcohol as an aid to extract more of the aroma.

Tokubetsu Honjozo-Shu or (Special Honjozo-Shu) refers to a higher degree of polishing of rice grains or the use of a special sherry variety.

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Subsequently added alcohol:

Cheap sakes often contain a high level of added distilled alcohol in the final stages of production to increase the alcohol content.

In the premium classes, as in the sakes from the right column (Honjozo-Shu, Ginjo-Shu, Daiginjo-Shu), only a small amount of distilled alcohol is subsequently added in the final stage of production.

In this case, this is not done to increase the alcohol content, but to draw in a controlled manner the particularly aromatic and tasty ingredients that are soluble in the alcohol from the fermenting mesh, while the finished sake from the non-fermented solids is disconnected.

A perfectly acceptable form for producing a very high quality sake.

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Polishing degree of rice varieties:

As a simple definition, the higher the degree of polishing of the grains of rice used in brewing, the higher the degree of sakes.

For example, the outer shell of the rice kernels in the Junmai-Shu and Honjozo-Shu is peeled off to 30%, leaving behind about 70% of the original rice grain for making the sake.
For the percent polishing grade, only the minimum requirements for brewing sake are given here. Often the rice is polished more than is required depending on the degree.

For example, with Daiginjo-shu, rice is often reduced to 35% of its original size, i. 65% of its outer shell is peeled off

🌐🌐🌐🌐🌐🌐🌐

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2 replies to “20181203 JAPAN:    Sake, what is this?

  1. There are many kinds of Sake, so we Japanese also do not know All.
    If you tell your favorite pursuit (preference), the restaurant general will choice for you.
    Sweet or dry, refreshing or thick, strong or not(alcohol content), etc ..
    Let’s Enjoy Japanese Sake!!:D

    Gefällt 1 Person

  2. Excellent!! 😀

    Japanese has been living with 神様, so „Sake“ was made to „tie“ 神様 and Japanese.
    Japanese has been making „Sake“ from BC4 縄文時代(Jyo-mon-era).
    Raw materials for „Sake“ are Rice and Rice-Koji(米麹), Water.

    Please choice „Hot or Cold,or Extra hot“ as you like.
    Hot is called „Atsu-kan;熱燗”、Cold is called „Hiya;冷や”,
    Extra hot is called „Nurume;ぬるめ” in Japan.
    If you do not know the proper temperature, please ask the Japanese.
    Japanese will kindly tell you.

    Gefällt 1 Person

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