When Sake comes up in conversation the questions that typically follow are, "What exactly is Sake?" Is it wine, beer or a distilled spirit? Should it be served warm or cold? What is the alcohol content? How should it be served? And the list goes on...
Sake is made from rice, a grain, so by strict definition it would be classified closer to beer than wine. However, it can be made from over 50 different rice varietals, offering a range from subtle to distinct flavor differences, somewhat similar to the variety of grape varietals used to make wine. Sake is not vintaged like wine, it is best when consumed earlier to its release rather than later and only takes about a month to go through the entire fermentation process. The color of Sake ranges from clear to a soft gold and it typically presents its best flavor when served slightly chilled, yet there are many advocates of slightly warmed Sake. Often it will come down to personal preference or Sake style. The alcohol content of Sake ranges from 13-18%.
What Foods Complement Sake Best?
Obviously, Asian fare is a great starting point for Sake. However, moving on from there, fish, lighter flavored sauces, appetizers and the like will also lend themselves well to a Sake pairing.
What Brands of Sake are Worth Trying?
With over 1500 Sake breweries established it is a daunting task to limit Sake suggestions to a handful of brands, but here are some places to start: Hakkaisan, Isojiman, Juyondai, Koro, Ozeki, and Suehiro.