Ochoko cups. Photo by Wanda Haynes

Wanda Haynes,

Certified Sommelier

What is sake?

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It consists of four ingredients: rice, water, yeast, and a mold called koji. Primarily sakami rice is used for making sake. Koji is the mold that is distributed over the rice that convert the starches into sugar. This process and the varying quality of water in Japan help determine flavor. Sake is extraordinarily labor intense, and the Japanese take much pride in its production. The pronunciation is (Saw-Kay).

The different types of sake are categorized by their rice polish ratio (RPR) and the addition of brewer’s alcohol.  

If a sake has an RPR of 60 percent, then 40 percent of the rice’s outer layer was polished away.

High-end sake is made with rice polished down 50 percent or more. With the bran, proteins, and fat removed the sake is lighter and more fragrant. 

Come back next week for sake part 2, and learn more.

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