Where does it come from ?
Japanese sake, which is made from rice as its raw material, cannot be produced without "rice." The culture of rice farming was introduced to Japan during the Yayoi period from the 4th century BC to the 3rd century AD. This is where the origin of Japanese sake lies.
In addition, there is "koji," which produces sugar from rice. This useful microorganism naturally occurs in Japan's humid climate and is not only used in sake brewing but also in various traditional Japanese food making, becoming an indispensable part of the Japanese diet.
What is sake made from ?
Sake is made from a combination of rice, water, yeast, and koji. The type of rice used to make sake is called "shuzo kotekimai" or saka-mai, which is a special type of rice that has larger, starchier grains than regular table rice.
The water used for making sake is also essential, and some sake breweries are located in areas with high-quality water sources.
Koji is a type of mold that is used to break down the rice starch into sugar, which is then fermented by yeast to produce alcohol. The combination of these ingredients and the brewing process results in the unique flavor profile and aroma of sake.
What are the definition of sake ?
Did you know that Japanese sake is referred to as "Seishu 清酒" in the Japanese law? Japanese call it 'Nihonshu 日本酒' (Nihon=Japan, Shu=Alcohol) Nihonshu is a protected geographical indication (GI) in Japan which ensures that only sake that is produced in Japan and meets certain criteria can be marketed under this name.
The Japanese Liquor Tax Act defines it as "a fermented and filtered product with an alcohol content of less than 22 degrees made from rice, rice koji, water (or with sake lees and other items specified by government ordinance) as raw materials.
How do you drink sake?
After World War II, there was a serious shortage of rice. To prevent the spoilage of sake, the standard practice of adding distilled alcohol was utilized to increase sake production. However, this method was also used to bulk it up.
Over the last 70 years, the quality of sake has improved significantly, and as a result, heating it up all the time is no longer necessary. In fact, what makes sake unique is that it can be enjoyed at various temperatures, from hot to chilled.