Sake, “the drink of the gods,” has played a vital role in Japanese culture for 2,000 years. There are currently around 2,000 sake breweries in Japan.
Sake is made from rice, water, koji (the mold that converts the rice starch to sugar), yeasts, and in some cases, added brewer's alcohol.
-While the varietal of rice does play a part, it is not as determinent as a grape varietal is in wine.
-What is more important is the amount the rice grain has been polished down (seimaibuai).
-The quality of water is extremely important.
-Yeasts play another vital role. Different yeasts produce different aromas and styles.
Sake is (usually) best drunk young, and once opened, can be refrigerated for up to a week.
Artisanal sake is as different from the hot, retched stuff many unfortunately associate with “sake” as a First Growth is from fermented grape juice. This is because of:
-Higher quality rice varietals, water, koji, and yeasts.
-Rice grains significantly milled down, which creates cleaner sakes with fruitier aromatics.
-Traditional Japanese hand-crafting of small batches, not U.S. industrial mass production.
Artisanal sake, while brewed like beer, is best enjoyed as one would a fine white wine: chilled and in stemware.
Artisanal sake is a hip and booming category, with over solid annual growth in the U.S.
The Niigata region of Japan ("the Napa Valley of Japan) is widely considered the best place in the world for premium sake, due to its pure mountain water, great rice, and distinctive micro-brewing styles.
>> Click here to view a video of the sake production process.