All About Japanese Food Culture - Japanese Sake

4. Types of Japanese Sake

Like beer and wine, Japanese sake is categorized as “brewed alcohol”. And similar to how beer is made from malt and wine from grapes, sake is created through the alcoholic fermentation of rice.

Although the sugars themselves in grapes are fermented for wine, the starches in barley are first saccharified to make malt which is then fermented to make beer. To make Japanese sake, the starch in the raw ingredient rice needs to be saccharified as for beer, but the key difference is that the saccharification and fermentation occur at the same time in sake production.

Sake made using only water, rice and koji is called “junmai”. This kind of sake is very delicate, with a unique Japanese brewing method. The flavor is largely determined by the quality of raw ingredients and the season.

Sake with brewing alcohol added is categorized as “honjozo”, and is more fragrant and smoother than junmai. The added alcohol is to prevent the sake from spoiling and to stabilize the aroma and flavor.

Besides categorization by the presence of brewing alcohol and proportion of raw ingredients, there are also 4 types of junmai and 5 types of honjozo Japanese sake, each filled with a deliciousness that utilizes their own characteristics.

In addition, other classification methods other than junmai and honjozo exist, such as refined sake with no water added as a final step, sake that does not undergo pasteurization, and clouded sake. Naturally, they also have different tastes.

Japanese sake has been cultivated by Japan’s climate and long history, bursting with a boundless diversity, and with a deep wonder that is drawing increasing notice from people all over the world.

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