Many of us surely love wine. The taste and the warm sensation of it lining our chest as we drank a cup or a glass of it was satisfying. As for me, nothing beats the taste of rice wines. While other wines can bring sensations of being elite and sophisticated, rice wines bring a countryside, calming vibe as I sip through it. It was the best feeling, I’ll tell you.
Of course, I have already tasted a lot of different wines. And when I mean a lot, I mean a lot! Many of its kinds (challenge me) I already have the chance to have its taste.
Now, if you will ask me what the best rice wine I have tasted in my whole life—and perhaps even in my remaining, I would say the traditional Honjozo Sake from Japan.
What is Honjozo Sake?
Honjozo is a type of sake—or most commonly known as rice wine that is originally and traditionally made in the land of the rising sun, Japan. I was able to have a sip (forgive me, but it’s actually not just a sip) of this pride and traditional icon of Japan when I visited the country a few years ago.
Visiting Japan was one of the best times of my life. The culture, the tradition, the place, it was always a haven for me. Actually, I am also planning to visit the country once again once I have cleared every scheduled side hustle that I have. And, of course, as a sake enthusiast, I will never forget tasting the wines the country is known for. Among them, the Honjozo sake is the best.
There are several types of Honjozo sake in Japan, but it would only just differ depending on the rice used, the style of brewing, and even the water used. Overall, the production of Honjozo was just as similar to the Junmai Sake—but! For the Honjozo, the sake master is allowed to put a small amount of alcohol content in the brewing process.
The taste of Honjozo sake, to describe, was a bit sweeter compared to other sake or wines I have tasted. This is a premium sake. It was even sweeter than the slightly more popular Japanese sake, the Junmai Sakes. This sake was more aromatic and lighter and had an urbane touch as it glided through the throat. Thanks to Koji, which is an additional ingredient to the Honjozo sake, this rice wine tastes deliciously sweet.
Kojis are kinds of fungus scientifically named Aspergillus oryzae which allows the transformation of glucose (from rice) to sugar. Moreover, yeast added in the brewing process allows the converted sugar to turn into alcohol.
Honjozo Sake is perfect for drinking and is served in a slightly warm room—and of course, best paired with Japan’s most known sushi.
Is Honjozo A Sake?
To briefly answer, yes. Honjozo sake is a form of sake that everyone can enjoy. As I previously mentioned, Honjozo sake has a similar process to the well-known Junmai sake. Any rice wine with a process similar to the making of Junmai sake but unbranded Junmai can be classified as Honjozo.
To be classified as sake, the production process of it should involve various important elements. One of them is making the rice wine tun into polished rice. To make it polished, the rice grain’s outer bran layer will be removed so that the fermentation process of the rice will occur. The rice wine should be polished at least seventy percent from its original weight.
Now I, too, know that there is some mild argument about the legitimacy of Honjozo as being classified as sake. Some argue that Honjozo is not a sake because, unlike Junmai Sake, distilled alcohol is added in the production process.
Sakes are made and processed to lessen the alcohol content of the beverage. Adding more alcohol content was nonsense for its production. However, the sake Brew Masters adds alcohol content in the creation process because they discovered that a sweet, fragrant aroma from the fermented rice wine would appear during the sake’s fermentation process. Moreover, the added alcohol content in the Honjozo Sake does not exceed over 10 percent of the whole created volume of Honjozo.
Honjozo Brewing Process
While Honjozo Sake has a relative difference in added ingredients compared to the other types of sakes, the brewing processes of each type of sake are generally the same.
These are the processes:
Other Commonly Asked Questions Related to Honjozo Sake:
What is the difference between Junmai and Honjozo Sake?
In the previous sections, I have already discussed the relative difference between Junmai and Honjozo Sake. Yet, to describe the difference when it comes to its sensation in the throat and tongue when drank;
Junmai Sake has a rough, rustic taste that will last on the tongue. Its flavor, too, was strong and had a slightly pounding impact on the drinker’s taste buds.
Honjozo sake, however, has a smoother flavor that is soothing on the tongue, making it light and aromatic while drinking. This was made possible because of the distilled alcohol added in the production process, which helps extract the hidden aroma and flavor of the rice wine.
What is added to Honjozo Sake?
Answer: Brewer’s Alcohol / Pure Distilled Alcohol
The added alcohol content in Honjozo Sake is around 10 percent of the weight of the sake rice that was used as an ingredient. Honjozo Sake brew masters only add a few amounts of Alcohol because its only purpose is Rice Polished to produce a quality taste and aroma.
Honjozo Taste Profile
Honjozo sake’s taste was smoother, but it was relatively drier compared to other sakes. It has a fragrant and aromatic smell that you will enjoy seeping through your nose as you sip on it. Also, the Honjozo sake was less acidic, and its bitter aftertaste was lesser compared to other pure sakes.
Honjozo Food Pairing
Because Honjozo sake has a light, smooth taste, this beverage is perfect when paired with either light or heavy dishes. One popular dish that is perfect with Honjozo sake is sushi. For heavy dishes, Honjozo sake is also perfect with hot pots.