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Articles were written by Chris Pearce, president of World Sake Imports, and were originally published in the Hawaii Herald.

 
 
  • Q & A

Sake Q & A

How should sake be stored?

Sake should be kept under refrigeration after purchase. It should never be placed in direct sunlight or kept in a bright, warm place for any length of time.

Is sake drinking beneficial to health?

Many studies have shown that, enjoyed in moderation, alcohol helps relieve stress and provides a beneficial stimulus for the heart. Among alcoholic beverages, sake, which contains about five times as many amino acids as wine, is a healthy choice.

What is the difference between sweet and dry sake?

A truly sweet sake is becoming a rarity, and most brewers stay fairly close to the middle ground—either mildly dry or mildly sweet. Many brewers note the Nihon Shudo value on their labels. Those with a “ + ” designation tend towards dryness, while a “ - ” sake will tend to be on the sweet side.

What kinds of foods does sake pair best with?

Sake is a natural companion for Japanese foods, but is proving itself increasingly versatile with a wide range of cuisines. Sake goes best with dishes that bring out the natural flavor of ingredients without the addition of heavy sauces and seasonings.

Should sake be drunk warm or cold?

Ginjo sakes with a floral or fruity flavor are best drunk cold, while earthier junmai sakes with more rice taste can be enjoyed either warm or cold. Sake should never be served hot, which harms the aroma and flavor.

Is there a difference between sake and wine with regard to food pairing?

Sake has much less acidity than wine. When paired with food it creates complementary nuances rather than the bold contrasts often found in wine and food pairings.

How many sakes are there in the world?

There are at least 10,000 different sakes being produced today. Close to 300 of them are currently available in New York and Los Angeles.

What is the significance of the rice polishing ratio?

Generally speaking, the more the rice is polished before soaking and steaming the higher the quality of sake. Junmai sakes are polished to at least 70 percent of their original size, while daiginjo sakes can be polished down to 50 percent or less.

How does the chemical composition of the water from which sake is brewed affect its flavor and texture?

The water from which sake is brewed has a tremendous effect on its taste and texture. Soft water tends to produce mellow, rounded sakes, while harder water containing more minerals favors the brewing of crisp, dry ones.

How difficult is it to brew sake?

Dual simultaneous fermentation, the brewing process used to make sake, is significantly more complex than the fermentation processes used to produce wine or beer.

 

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