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What Is The Best Sake For Beginners?

Last Updated on May 2024

Welcome, sake enthusiasts and curious beginners alike! If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of sake, and are looking for the best sake for beginners, you’ve come to the right place.

I remember what it was like to be a beginner, unsure of where to start with so many options to choose from. That’s why I’ve put together this guide.

I’ve spent years working as a sake advisor in a busy restaurant in Carmel, CA. This wasn’t just any restaurant, we served hundreds of people a day and boasted one of the largest selections of sake in California. I was responsible for ordering sake, tasting new sakes with representatives, and recommending the perfect bottle to customers. So, you could say I know a thing or two about sake!

I’ve done the research, tasted the sakes, and read the reviews so you don’t have to. I don’t mind doing the hard work, so you don’t have to! I recommend the Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”. It’s a Junmai sake with a rich and full-bodied flavor that’s perfect for beginners.

So grab a glass, settle in, and let’s dive into the world of sake together!

Best Overall

Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”

Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”

A Junmai sake with a rich and full-bodied flavor, perfect for beginners.

  • ✅ Sake Classification: Junmai
  • ✅ Aroma & Flavor: Rich and full-bodied
  • ✅ Value for Money: Excellent

Runner-up

Sakura Muromachi “Bizen Maboroshi”

Sakura Muromachi “Bizen Maboroshi”

A Junmai Daiginjo sake with a smooth and fruity flavor, a great choice for beginners.

  • ✅ Sake Classification: Junmai Daiginjo
  • ✅ Aroma & Flavor: Smooth and fruity
  • ✅ Value for Money: Great

Best Tasting

Hakkaisan “Yukimuro”

Hakkaisan “Yukimuro”

A Junmai Ginjo sake with a light and clean flavor, perfect for beginners who are willing to spend a little more.

  • ✅ Sake Classification: Junmai Ginjo
  • ✅ Aroma & Flavor: Light and clean
  • ✅ Value for Money: More expensive then our other options, yet delicious.

Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”

Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”

Our top pick for beginners is the Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”. This sake is a Junmai, meaning it’s made without added alcohol. It has a rich and full-bodied flavor that’s perfect for those new to sake. Whether you’re enjoying it with a meal or sipping it on its own, this sake is sure to impress.

PROS

  • Rich and full-bodied flavor
  • No added alcohol
  • Great for pairing with meals

CONS

  • May be too rich for some
  • Not as fruity as other sakes

Sakura Muromachi “Bizen Maboroshi”

Sakura Muromachi “Bizen Maboroshi”

Our runner-up is the Sakura Muromachi “Bizen Maboroshi”. This Junmai Daiginjo sake is a great choice for beginners. It has a smooth and fruity flavor that’s easy to enjoy. Plus, it’s versatile enough to pair with a wide variety of foods, making it a great choice for those who like to experiment with pairings.

PROS

  • Smooth and fruity flavor
  • Great for food pairings
  • Easy to enjoy

CONS

  • May be too light for some
  • Not as rich as other sakes

Hakkaisan “Yukimuro”

Hakkaisan “Yukimuro”

Our favorite based on flavor is the Hakkaisan “Yukimuro”. This Junmai Ginjo sake offers a light and clean flavor that’s perfect for beginners. It’s a versatile sake that pairs well with a wide variety of foods. It is more expensive than our other options, yet offers great value for money.

PROS

  • Light and clean flavor
  • Great for food pairings
  • Excellent value for money

CONS

  • May be too light for some
  • Not as fruity as other sakes

Now that we’ve covered our top picks, let’s dive a little deeper into the world of sake. If you’re a beginner, you might be wondering exactly what sake is and how it’s made. Let’s start with the basics.

What is Sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It’s often referred to as “rice wine,” but the brewing process is actually more similar to beer than wine. Sake is made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the outer layer of the grain. The degree to which the rice is polished has a significant impact on the flavor and quality of the sake.

Understanding Sake

There are several types of sake, but the main ones you’ll come across are Junmai, Ginjo, Daiginjo, and Honjozo. Junmai sakes are made without added alcohol, while Ginjo and Daiginjo sakes are made with rice that’s been milled to remove at least 40% and 50% of the outer layer, respectively. Honjozo sakes, on the other hand, have a small amount of distilled alcohol added to them.

The flavor of sake can vary greatly depending on the type of rice used, the quality of the water, the skill of the brewer, and the rice polishing ratio. The rice polishing ratio refers to the amount of the outer layer of the rice that’s been removed. The more the rice is polished, the lighter and more refined the flavor of the sake will be.

Why is the Rice Polishing Ratio Important?

The rice polishing ratio refers to the amount of the outer layer of the rice grain that is removed before brewing. The more the rice is polished, the higher the quality of the sake. This is because the outer layer of the rice grain contains proteins and fats that can lead to off-flavors in the sake. By removing these elements, the sake brewer can create a more refined and pure-tasting sake.

Different Types of Sake

There are several different types of sake, each with its own unique flavor profile. Here are a few of the most common types:

Junmai: This type of sake is made with only rice, water, and koji mold. It has a full-bodied flavor and high acidity.

Ginjo: This sake is made with rice that has been polished to at least 60% of its original size. It has a light, fruity flavor and aroma.

Daiginjo: This is a type of ginjo sake made with rice that has been polished to at least 50% of its original size. It has a complex flavor and aroma, often with fruity and floral notes.

Honjozo: This sake is made with a small amount of distilled alcohol, which enhances the flavor and aroma. It has a light, smooth flavor.

Choosing the Best Sake for Beginners

When choosing a sake for beginners, there are a few things to consider. First, you’ll want to look at the type of sake. Junmai sakes, which are made without added alcohol, are often a good choice for beginners as they offer a pure, clean taste. Ginjo and Daiginjo sakes, which are made with highly polished rice, are also a good option as they tend to be lighter and more refined.

Next, consider the flavor profile. If you’re new to sake, you might want to start with a sake that has a smooth, fruity flavor. These sakes are easy to drink and can be enjoyed on their own or with a meal.

Finally, consider the price. While there are some expensive sakes out there, there are also plenty of affordable options that are perfect for beginners. Don’t feel like you have to break the bank to enjoy a good bottle of sake.

FAQs

Here are some of the most common questions people have when they’re just starting out with sake:

What is the best temperature to serve sake?
Sake can be served at a range of temperatures, from chilled to warm, depending on the type of sake and personal preference. Generally, premium sakes are served chilled to preserve their complex flavors, while lower-quality sakes are often served warm.

What food pairs well with sake?
Sake is incredibly versatile and can be paired with a wide range of foods. It goes particularly well with Japanese cuisine, but can also be paired with dishes from other cuisines. For example, the fruity and floral notes of a Ginjo sake can complement the flavors of a spicy Thai dish.

How long does sake last after opening?
Once opened, a bottle of sake should be kept in the fridge and consumed within 1-2 weeks. Over time, the sake will start to lose its flavor.

Can sake go bad?
Like wine, sake can go bad if it’s not stored properly. Unopened bottles should be kept in a cool, dark place and consumed within a year. Once opened, the sake should be kept in the fridge and consumed within 1-2 weeks.

Conclusion

The world of sake is vast and varied, with a range of flavors and styles to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned sake enthusiast or a complete beginner, there’s a sake out there for you. Our top pick for beginners is the Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”, a Junmai sake with a rich and full-bodied flavor. But don’t stop there – keep exploring and trying new sakes. You never know, you might just find your new favorite drink!

Remember, the best way to learn about sake is to taste it for yourself. So why not pick up a bottle of our recommended sakes and start your sake journey today? Kanpai!

Our #1 Recommendation: Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”

Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”

Editor’s Choice

Our top pick for beginners is the Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai”. This sake is a Junmai, meaning it’s made without added alcohol. It has a rich and full-bodied flavor that’s perfect for those new to sake. Whether you’re enjoying it with a meal or sipping it on its own, this sake is sure to impress.


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One response to “What Is The Best Sake For Beginners?”

  1. Nate Avatar
    Nate

    Wow! I love all the information. I hope this goes well for your…sake!

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