Why Sake is More than Just “Rice Wine”

Sake: More Than Just “Rice Wine”

Hi, I’m Alex Walter and I’m a sake expert. People often refer to sake as “rice wine” but this doesn’t quite do justice to the complexity of this traditional Japanese beverage. Sake is much more than just “rice wine” and in this article, I’ll explain why.

What is Sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese beverage made from rice, water, yeast, and koji. The koji is a special type of mold that is used to convert the starches in the rice into sugars. This process is what gives sake its unique flavor and aroma.

Unique Production Process

The production process for sake is unique compared to other alcoholic beverages. First, the rice is polished to remove the outer layers and reveal the starch-rich core. The degree of polishing is very important and will affect the flavor and aroma of the sake. The rice is then graded according to its polishing rate and the higher the grade, the more expensive the sake will be.

Once the rice is polished and graded, it is mixed with water and koji and left to ferment. The fermentation process is slow and can take anywhere from one to three months. During this time, the yeast and koji work together to create the unique flavor and aroma of the sake.

Types of Sake

There are several different types of sake, each with its own unique flavor and aroma. Junmai sake is made from just rice, water, and koji and is known for its robust flavor and aroma. Ginjo sake is made from highly polished rice and is known for its fruity and floral notes. Finally, daiginjo sake is made from the most highly polished rice and is known for its light and delicate flavor.

Serving & Pairing Sake

Sake can be served either warm or cold, depending on the type of sake and the preference of the drinker. Junmai sake is usually served warm while ginjo and daiginjo sake are usually served cold. Sake can also be paired with food, as the unique flavor and aroma of sake can bring out the best in a variety of dishes.


Sake is much more than just “rice wine” and is a unique and complex beverage. From the special production process to the variety of flavors and aromas, sake is a truly special beverage that deserves to be appreciated for its unique qualities. So the next time you’re in the mood for a drink, why not give sake a try?


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