What is sake?
Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from rice. The four main ingredients are rice, water, yeast, and koji. It’s similar to beer in the sense that starch in a grain is converted to sugar then fermented, but the end result is more like white wine since it’s rarely bubbly and has a higher alcohol content than beer. The different categories of sake, such as junmai or ginjo, depend on how much of the rice is polished off. The percentage number of the rice polishing ratio listed is the amount left of the rice, so the lower the number, the more polishing has occurred. (Whittling down grains of rice without breaking the integrity of it is notoriously difficult; this is why it is often more expensive the more rice is polished off.)
It's not known when exactly people began drinking sake in Japan, but it's believed to have started during the Yayoi period (300BC - 200AD) when rice cultivation was brought over from China. It’s heartening to know they had their priorities straight: 1. Secure food. 2. Make alcohol. No one needs an excuse to drink sake—we sure don’t—but if you must have reasons besides the fact it’s delicious, there are plenty:
Sake is (generally) gluten-free. Gluten-intolerant drinkers, rejoice! Unlike barley, wheat or rye, rice has no gluten, so premium sake is usually gluten-free. Because premium sakes have no preservatives or sulfites, and compared to wine, it has low acidity (⅓ of wine!) and low histamines, drinking sake leaves you with less hangovers. We’re talking when enjoyed in moderation, people; in moderation, please.
It's great for your immune system with seven times more amino acids than wine, lots of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and antioxidants. Among the variety of amino acids found in sake, peptides have shown to regulate blood pressure and have been researched for treatment of high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as memory improvement. Can you remember the main four ingredients in sake? No? Get thee to a brewery, stat!
Sake is extremely versatile, especially paired with food, so you can find the right bottle whether you're having Italian or Indian, a charcuterie board or dessert.
We can give you lots of practical reasons to drink sake, but in the end, it’s just plain delicious. So if you feel ready, dive in and choose the perfect bottle for you. There are multiple grades/categories of sake; learn more here and look for the right fit.
Ask us if you have any questions and our in-house Sake Specialist will get back to you.
Happy searching, and kanpai!