Sake 101: The Basics Every Drinker Should Know

Sake 101: The Basics Every Drinker Should Know

Hi, I’m Alex Walter and I’m a sake expert. Sake is a unique and flavorful beverage with a long history and a range of styles, making it an exciting and interesting drink to explore. In this article, I’m going to cover the basics of sake, from what’s in a bottle to how to drink it. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of this unique beverage and be able to select the right sake for you.

What is Sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It’s been around for centuries and is a popular drink in Japan and around the world. Sake is made by fermenting rice, koji (asparagus spores), yeast, and water. The resulting beverage is usually clear and light in color, with a slightly sweet flavor.

The History of Sake

Sake has been around for centuries and is believed to have originated in China. It was introduced to Japan in the 8th century and quickly became a popular drink. Sake has been an important part of Japanese culture ever since, with sake breweries (called kura) popping up all over the country. In recent years, sake has become increasingly popular outside of Japan, with more and more people discovering its unique flavor and history.

What’s in a Bottle of Sake?

Sake is made from four main ingredients: rice, koji, yeast, and water. Rice is the main ingredient and is usually polished to remove the outer layer of the grain. This polishing process removes proteins and fats that can affect the flavor of the sake. Koji is a type of asparagus spore that is used to convert the starch in the rice into sugar, which is then fermented by the yeast. Water is also an important ingredient, as it affects the flavor and texture of the sake.

How Sake Is Made

Making sake is a complex process that involves several steps. First, the rice is washed and soaked in water. Next, the rice is steamed to make it easier to work with. Then, the koji is added to the mixture and allowed to ferment. Finally, the yeast is added and the mixture is allowed to ferment for several weeks. After the fermentation process is complete, the sake is filtered and bottled.

Types of Sake

There are several different types of sake, each with its own unique flavor and characteristics. Junmai and Honjozo are the two main types of sake. Junmai is made with only rice, koji, and water, while Honjozo is made with added alcohol. Other types of sake include Futsu-shu, Ginjo, and Daiginjo. Each type has its own flavor profile and is best suited for different types of dishes.

Food Pairings

Sake pairs well with a variety of dishes, from sushi to teriyaki. It’s also a great match for tempura, which is a Japanese dish of deep-fried vegetables and seafood. Sake’s light and refreshing flavor helps to balance out the rich and savory flavors of these dishes.

How to Drink Sake

Sake can be enjoyed at a variety of temperatures, from chilled to warm. It’s also important to consider the type of sake when selecting a serving option. Junmai and Honjozo are best served chilled, while Ginjo and Daiginjo are best served slightly chilled or at room temperature.


Sake is a unique and flavorful beverage with a long history and a range of styles. Understanding sake will help enhance your drinking experience and allow you to select the right sake for you. From what’s in a bottle to how to drink it, this article has provided you with the basics of sake. So go ahead and explore the wonderful world of sake!


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