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Common name in Europe for the rice wine, In Japanese, the word Sake (honorably spoken as o-sake) suggests in a narrower sense Seishu or Nihonshu, meaning rice wine. Because sake is also a collective term for Wine. beer and alcoholic beverages in general. Colloquially, Nihonshu is common, Seishu is the technical term, so to speak. Therefore, to avoid misunderstandings, these two terms should be used. Despite the name Sake resembles much more a beer than wine, because of the sugar for the Ver fermentation must first be unlocked. Sake is in Japan still the national drink.

Sake - different sake types - left a sparkling sake / sake advertisement

A rice wine has been available in Japan since the 3rd century BC. Produced in Chr. At this time, the wet rice cultivation was introduced. Rites of the Shinto religion are reported, where rice was chewed by girls and then spit into jars. This had a fermentative effect, in which the rice starch was converted to sugar. By yeasts one came from the air spontaneous fermentation, The final product had only minor alcohol content and was consumed like porridge. From the 5th century were fungal cultures for the fermentation used. The production of sake in Japan was initially limited to the imperial court and was gradually transferred to the monasteries. The bakery Gekkeikan from Kyoto has been producing sake since 1637.


First, the rice grains are "polished", ie the bran layers removed (Japanese Sei-mai = rice polish). The stronger or more so, the finer the product. High-quality sake is removed up to half of the previous volume. The excess material is marketed as rice flour. Then the kōji (starter culture) is produced. For this purpose, part of the rice with the mold Aspergillus oryzae vaccinated, who the fermentation the strength in glucose (Grape sugar) promotes. Then a mixture of the koji, steamed rice and water is formed, and the fermentation by adding lactic acid and yeasts started. The result is a mixture with 18 to 20% vol alcohol content. This is squeezed to get the clear sake. If necessary, the alcohol content is lowered by adding water to 15% vol. The sake then matures in tanks for six to twelve months. The filling takes place in ceramic or glass bottles as well as in Tetra pack,

Sake types

The premium qualities are called Tokutei Meisho-shu . For these there are strict production conditions regarding the raw materials (selected rice and spring water from the Japanese mountains) and the manufacturing methods. The standard qualities that do not conform to these specifications are commonly called Futsu-shu or colloquially Ippan-shu . The unpolished ones account for 80% of the production volume. Other names include: Honjozo-shu (at least 70% polished), Junmai-shu (no prescribed polishing rate since 2005), Ginjo-shu and Junmai Ginjo-shu (at least 60% polished), and Daiginjo-shu and Junmai Daiginjo-shu (at least 50% polished). Junmai-shu, Junmai Ginjo-shu and Junmai Daiginjo-shu do not add alcohol, which means they will not gespritet, Shichiken is a bottle- fermented , degorgierten dry sparkling sake.

Sake - shelf with many bottles - different sake

Similar to sake is Mirin , a sweet rice wine with a lower alcohol content, which is only used for seasoning. A non-alcoholic rice wine made from koji rice without yeast added is called amazake (sweet sake). In China Shaoxing, named after the city, is the best-known rice wine brand and is exported to more than 50 countries worldwide. It is divided into more than ten varieties according to the content of sugar and alcohol. The most important after increasing sugar content are Yuanhongjiu, Jiafanjiu, Huadiaojiu, Shanniangjiu and Xiangxuejiu.

Enjoyment of sake

In winter, sake is often heated to a temperature of 35 to 40 degrees Celsius and as aperitif or digestif drinking. This is called "put a hot stone on the stomach" . In summer it is usually drunk cold and also served with ice cubes very cold at 7 ° Celsius. Sake is drunk from small wooden cubes ( Masu ), Cups ( Ochoko ) or drinking bowls ( Sakazuki ). But it can also wine glasses Best used for almost all sake types Bordeaux glass, However, the taste of dried fruit and nuts to enjoy an aged sake is best for a big one Cognacglas or a Burgundy wine glass, Typical serving vessels are Katakuchi and for warmed sake Tokkuri (O-Choshi). A popular location for enjoyment are the souvenirs "Izakaya". Traditionally, sake from the popular 1.8-liter bottles is served there.

Sake - bowls (sakazuki), wooden cubes (masu) and cups (ochoko)

Sake is an excellent food companion and an important part of Japanese culinary and food culture. As with wine, there are recommendations to which food which sake type suits best. As a rule, sake is not served with sushi, as the vinegared rice is not tolerated in terms of taste. There are very good suggestions for this on the special website UENO-Gourmet ; a member of Slow Food,

Additional information

Complete listings of the numerous vinification measures and cellar techniques, as well as the wine-regulated wine, sparkling wine and distillate types are under the keyword winemaking contain. Comprehensive information on wine law is available under the keyword wine law,

Text: Cooperation of OSR Dipl.-Päd. Wolfgang Mucher (certified sake sommelier)
Pictures sake bottles: OSR Dipl.-Päd. Wolfgang Mucher
Image Sake Advertisement: By Unknown - Collection , Public domain, Link
Image Masu: By The Epopt - Transfer wikipedia , public domain , link

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