Sake Tasting



By Flavia Lo Buono Leite


October 1 is the official Sake Day (日本酒の日) of Japan, the perfect day for a sake tasting, right? And here in Kofu we just happened to have one on that day and it was a huge success. Organized by the Yamanashi Sake and Shochu Makers Association, the event was a great opportunity to learn more about the production of sake and to taste some of the best sakes produced in Yamanashi. There were several kinds of sake and different shochu selections from 15 breweries.


                              


It was the first time I participated in a sake tasting and to my surprise my experience at the event involved much more than just drinking sake. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the producers and they explained to me how sake was made, the process, the type of rice used and how important the quality of the water is to produce a good sake. Luckily here in Yamanashi we have some of the cleanest and purest water in Japan J. So you can expect great sake too!!


In this post I will share a little bit of what I have learned about sake production.

Sake (nihonshu) is a typical Japanese alcoholic beverage. Appreciated in Japan and around the world, the sake is made from fermented rice. The production process starts with the selection of the rice. The rice is then polished, washed and steamed. In beverages made from grains, such as sake and beer, it is necessary to add enzymes to break down the grain starch and convert it into sugar before the fermentation. In brewing, malt is used as a source of these enzymes, but in the production of sake, Koji is used. Koji is a kind of fungus (similar to mold) that forms on the steamed rice. Then, the sake is fermented and stored.

There are different types of sake: dry sakes (Karakuchi) or soft and sweeter (Amakuchi) .The basic difference between them is the amount of sugar that is not converted into alcohol during the fermentation process, leaving the beverage with a stronger or weaker degree of alcohol.

If you are interested in sake but missed the tasting, you can visit the breweries of Yamanashi and learn more about sake, see the facilities where they produce the sake (some of the breweries have guided tours) and of course taste test and buy some delicious sake. You just may find yourself a new favorite beverage!
For more information you can access the association`s website: http://www.yamanashi-sake.jp/en/

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