Guide to Sake Types and Pairing
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Guide to Sake Types and Pairing

Sake types and pairing with food, Which Sake goes with which food

Sake is Japanese rice wine and was first made over 2000 years ago. There are at least 80 types of Sake in Japan but there are five basic types

  1. Junmai-shu  is a pure rice wine consisting of rice only with no added alcohol. It is a bit heavier and has a fuller flavour than the others and has a slightly higher acidity content.
  2. Honjozo-shu is lighter than Junmai and has a tad of alcohol added. It should be served at room temperature or warmed.
  3. Ginjo-shu is a premium sake and equates to a single malt against a regular whiskey which means it is 90% better than the other sakes. Its taste is layered or complex and it is light and fragrant. Ginjo means it has distilled alcohol added, if it is labelled Junmai Ginmo it has no alcohol added.
  4.  Daiginjo-shu has alcohol added but if it is labelled Junmai-Daiginjo it means there is no alcohol added. This sake is lighter as well as being fragrant and fruity.
  5. Namazake is unpasteurised sake and incorporates all four of the above sakes,

Sake can be served chilled, at room temperature or gently warmed, but only the very expensive premium sakes can be served chilled.

How do you know which sake goes with which foods? For a start Sake does not necessarily have to be restricted to Asian or Japanese food. It can be served with European food as well but sake does not go with strongly flavoured or spiced foods which contains a lot of hot peppers.

Sake is best with mildly flavoured and lightly spiced foods but the flavour of the sake should complement the flavour of the food.

Sake with a high acid content should be served with oily dishes like tempura or baked fish.Junmai-shu has a slightly higher acid content so would fit in to this category.

Sweet sake goes well with a cream dish while dry sake complements dishes with a lighter sauce or grains and vegetables.

Sake which has a bitter or grainy tone goes well with vegetables, especially greens or a smoked dish.

Grainy sake is good with more substantial foods whilst creamy sake goes well with fruit or delicate or more saucy foods.

 Premium sake like ginjo-shu does not go with a high protein meal. Daiginjo-shu works well as an apperitif as it won't go with red meat or chicken and will clash with a herbal baked dish. Ginga-Gingo goes well with salads and grilled fish.

Like wine, there are really no hard and fast rules about sake. It is a matter of personal taste which will come with experimentation.

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Comments (1)

Very interesting