All About Japanese Sake
History of Japanese Sake
The Japanese began mass production of this delicious rice concoction drink over two thousand years ago. Sake was revered and offered to the various deities in the indigenous Shinto temples and enjoyed on celebratory occasions or festivals like their New Year, wedding reception, building of a new house or election victory etc.
Sake is made of essentially 4 elements- polished rice, soft water, special yeast and koji.
“Yamada Nishiki” Rice, often used for manufacturing sake, is relatively larger, contains more water and taste more neutral and more fragrant.
Process- Rice Milling or Polishing
These grains are polished in order to rid them of the outer impurities. The more the rice is polished and becomes smaller, the higher the quality and more expensive the Sake is considered to be.
Next, the rice will be washed, soaked, steamed then cooled.
The Koji is a form of enzyme found in a special mold spores and will be then sprinkled and propagated with the rice.
This process breaks down the starches in the rice grains into sugars, so that it can be next fermented by the yeast, then giving off carbon dioxide and alcohol. Sake yeasts play an important role as it creates the fragrance, flavour and texture in the Sake. The whole mix is then allowed fermentation, with water added in several batches, up to 32 days.
After which it is pressed, filtered and pasteurization, to kill bacteria and deactivate enzymes. Finally, the Sake is left in maturing barrels to age for around three weeks to six months, to round out the flavour, before bottling.
Basic Types of Sake
Ordinary Sake is known as Futsushu. They are often served warm. Avoid it at all cost, unless you desire to have a hangover!
There are two basic types of Premium Sake: Junmai or Honjozo.
Tokubestu literally means Special in Japanese. It may be a special yeast or higher grade of rice, and handled with extra special care. Hence, it also cost more because of its premium grade.
Shin Minori serves this Premium Sakes which can be found in our Menu.
How to Drink Sake
A ceramic flask, tokkuri, is used to serve Sake. The cup to hold the Sake, is called the ochoko.
Sake, like honjozo-shu, and shunmai-shu are often warmed to room temperature, while ginjo-shu and namazake are served chilled. Do not heat sake above room temperature unless it is of poor quality.
When drinking in in Japan, it is important to follow their cultural and social hierarchy.
Serving. The right way to serve is to hold the tokkuri with both hands, with palms facing down.
Being Served. When being served sake, it is recommended to hold the cup with two hands unless you are of a higher status than the person (your subordinate) who pours the drink for you, then, you may hold the cup with only one hand.
Toast. If you are drinking with a person who is of a higher in status, it is good to note that the rim of your cup should be below his rim when the two cups meet.
When drinking Sake, it is important to note that one do not fill up one’s cup. It’s the guests’ duty to ensure that the host’s cup is full.
How long does Sake last once opened
After a bottle of sake is opened, it is best to consumed it within 2 or 3 hours.
Though it is possible to store the left over sake in the refrigerator, it is recommended to finish the sake within 2 days. Reason being, once the premium sake is opened, oxidization takes place, which affects the taste unless it is sealed with a wine vacuum top.
Benefits of Sake
- It was discovered that the peptide properties in Japanese Sake is very effective in improving memory.
- Sake keeps body warmth much longer than other alcoholic beverages. This is especially beneficial in winter or cold weather.
- The warmer one’s temperature, it means better blood circulation and letting the mind stay alert.
- Sake removes low- density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol accumulated in the blood vessels, thereby reducing the build-up and formation of a clot, to block the blood- flow. This reduces heart attack or even a deadly stroke. Hence, it also has cardiovascular benefits.
- Laboratory research has also shown that the enzymes in sake have beautifying and moisturizing effect. Sake makes your skin glow as it contain koji acids which better control the creation of melanin pigments, hence reducing freckles and age spots.
- Besides orally consuming Sake, topical application or putting some of Sake into the bath, makes one’s complexion bright and soft. Many Sake brewers have hands that are soft, smooth and youthful like a child’s.
- Sake promotes appetite and better sleep, removes stress and improves human relations as any other alcoholic beverages.
- With so many wonderful properties that Sake brings, why not order one and enjoy a good drink to pamper yourself and your love ones? Kan Pai!
Love to try some sake? Visit this page prior heading down to our restaurant: http://shinminori.com.sg/sake/