Q: Dear Mr Otaru, I’m totally new to sake and I’d like to try a bottle, but I don’t know where to start… help!? - Claire
Hi Claire, glad that you’re interested in sake and very happy to help!
It can get confusing with all the names, and terms, especially since most of it is in Japanese, but here’s a little cheater’s edition to get you up and running a little quicker… obviously lots of things go into identifying how a sake might taste.
In VERY general terms, look for the word - JUNMAI (純米) - anywhere on the label, and it’ll be a safe bet. Junmai can come with several extra words and modifiers too, but don’t let that get in the way. Find one that fits your budget and enjoy your foray into the world of sake!
Don't forget to KAMPAI!
- Mr Otaru
What JUNMAI looks like on a label
- - - - -
Here’s the thinking behind this.
Junmai sakes are sake where there is no additional alcohol added to the fermentation process; all alcohol is naturally produced from the fermentation process. While this does not make Junmai sake inherently ‘better’ than non-Junmai sakes, Junmai sakes generally are a little more substantial and flavourful. This makes it easier to enjoy with a wider variety of food, especially some of our stronger Chinese and local fare. A little more forgiving as well when it comes to food pairing.
Tons more different styles of sake to try, but this is a great way to start.
If you’d like greater detail on sake grading and some of the technicalities, check out our other blog post - SAKE GRADING
Here are a couple of Junmai sakes we carry that you may want to try in the meantime.
Takizawa Junmai from Nagano - Smooth with a deep flavour
Shikisakura Junmai Daiginjo Imai Shohei from Tochigi - Clean and Dry
Daimon 35 Junmai Daiginjo from Osaka - Elegant, Luxurious, Complex