What is Japanese Sake?
What exactly is “sake” that seems to be popular not only in Japan, but around the world? For foreigners, not many things may be known about it as it is called different things such “alcoholic drink”, “sake”, and “Japanese sake wine”. In Japan, it is commonly called “Japanese Sake” because “Sake” means alcohol or alcoholic beverage in Japanese, and as mentioned in “Sake and Sushi”, “Japanese Sake” points to a particular type of alcoholic beverage just how wine and beer are particular types of drink.
Is sake a type of wine?
Japanese sake may also be called Japanese Sake Wine as it has the same transparent color and its alcohol degree is around 13 to 15%, similar to a typical western wine. Also, its combination with food is also part of enjoying Japanese sake.
Drinking sake with Japanese food, would be similar to combining red wine with steak, and white wine with fish. But it isn’t quite the same in terms of flavor, ingredients, and manufacturing process. Specifically, wine is usually stored under controlled temperature in a wine cellar. In addition, once poured in a glass, the scent and color are enjoyed, and when the wine has contacts with the air, it becomes oxidized, and the drinker can enjoy the astringent taste.
After enjoying the taste of wine spreading in the mouth, lastly, the drinker can enjoy the way the wine runs down the throat. Now, let’s look at how sake is enjoyed.
Difference of sake and wine
The big difference between wine and sake is that sake has different ways of drinking depending on the season. During the spring and fall seasons, sake is traditionally drunk in room temperature. In the summer, sake is prepared as “Reishu”, or refrigerated sake. While chilled sake is the way to go in the summer, heated or warm sake “Atsukan” is enjoyed in the winter.
Another difference is that sake is not put under controlled temperature the way wine is stored in cellars. The name of different types of sake will also differ depending on the way it is drunk. Thus, temperature is a key factor in the difference between wine and sake. Both have their unique characteristics and ways to be enjoyed.
Difference in taste
The biggest difference in taste comes from the actual raw ingredient used in creating these drinks. Wine uses grapes as its main ingredient, and Japanese sake mainly uses rice. Each ingredient holds a unique component to it, greatly determining the taste of flavors of each drink.
Grapes has sweetness and color, and it is a fruit that is greatly sensitive to the way it is stored and and its condition. Because it contains a lot of sugar, not only does it make it have an extremely sweet and strong fragrance, it is what gives the fine fragrance and taste unique to wine.
On the other hand, since rice has starch as its main ingredient, it does not have the sweetness of fruits. Speaking of rice, it is something that is almost always present in Japanese dishes. You may wonder, how do you turn something that already has a very mild taste into a drink?
The taste of sake
In order to create a drink with strong alcoholic ingredients using rice without sugar, the process of changing the starch component of the rice into sweetness is used. In addition, since rice has a lighter taste compared to grapes, even down to the water used in manufacturing sake becomes a crucial factor. As a delicate type of liquor, factors and ingredients some might think as less important can greatly change the taste of sake. For wine, weather, degree of maturity, and environment it grows in such as soil are important factor that influence its taste.
There are various differences like this, but why is it that we feel they are similar?
Both have good components for the body
Both sake and wine are drinks that complement the taste of certain dishes, but they also have health benefits because of its components. Grapes, for example, has more nutrition in its skin more than the actual fruit, so red wine in particular, contains a lot of nutrients that work well for the human body. The “disinfecting” effect of fruits sterilize the body from within, and the “vitamins” unique to fruits are very good for the health.
With Japanese sake, the fungus used during the manufacturing process is the secret ingredient, and this component still stays after it turns into alcohol, helping with the prevention of aging of cells, revitalization, and has moisturizing effects. By letting the heart actively work, it activates blood circulation, and by warming the body, it also helps with over sensitivity to cold and shoulder stiffness.
It may also have effects on relieving stress due to the improvements in blood flow. Over drinking alcohol causes negative consequences to the body, but by taking in moderation, it can let you enjoy the food you eat, but also in creating a good state of body.
What is Sake?
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