All About Japanese Food Culture - Japanese Sake

5. Characteristics of Japanese Sake

There are many distinct kinds of sake due to various factors at the breweries where it is manufactured. What exactly is the alcohol percentage of sake?

The alcohol percentage of beer is about 4% to 5%, from 7% to 15% for white wine, 11% to 15% for red wine, and anywhere from 40% to 60% for whiskey. For spirits with high percentages like whiskey, the malt used to make it fermented and then distilled, increasing the concentration of alcohol beyond what occurs naturally.

Japanese sake is a fermented beverage made through yeast fermentation, with water, rice and koji as the raw ingredients. Freshly-made unprocessed sake can be as much as 20% alcohol, but after it is mixed with water, it is shipped at about 15% to 16% alcohol.

Although sake is often categorized as either dry or sweet depending on the percentage of the sugar content, acidity is also an important element that affects the flavor. Even with the same sugar content, sake with high acidity can taste dry with depth.

Japanese sake has an interesting and diverse range of selections, such as sake with fruity aromas with hints of banana and apple, strongly grain-flavored sake, refreshing and smooth tasting sake, and sake with various notes of umami and mellow richness.

From crisp tasting sake that goes down smoothly to sake with a deliciousness that hangs in your mouth even when it’s gone, the choices are endless.

Because Japan stretches north to south over a wide range of latitudes, the weather conditions in each area differ greatly. Just as the food cultures are varied, the sake created in these many regions are also wide-ranging. Why not have a taste of the sake enjoyed by locals with a tasty meal of local specialties?

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