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A Guide to Pairing the Right Sake with Japanese Food

Jul 24 2020 - Blog

Sake to the Japanese is just like wine to the French. In Japan, it is a staple alcoholic beverage paired with almost every meal and its popularity has spread across the globe.

In this article, we will show you how to pair your Japanese meals with the right sake. If you’re keen to learn more about sake, do check out our other Sake 101 articles!

Read more: An Introduction to Japanese Sake, How to Pick a Good Sake and Health Benefits of Sake

The complexity and price point of a bottle of sake is partly determined by how polished the rice grains are. The more polished the sake, the cleaner the starch and hence, the cleaner the taste. But how do you choose the right sake pairing to make the best of your dining experience?

To answer this, it is key to know what kind of flavours you appreciate. Some people prefer stronger-tasting sake while others go for the fruitier easy-drinking types. Honjozo and Junmai are stronger-tasting sake while Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo are smoother ones.

The general rule of thumb is to pair the type of sake to the intensity of the food’s flavour. In other words, match light-tasting sake to light-tasting food and vice versa. Here are some recommendations from us!

1. JUNMAI-DAIGINJO Shigemasu (Fukuoka)

This luxurious sake starts off dry and spicy but evolves into richer, buttery notes. It has a moderately flowery nose with herbal and earthy tones. This sake full of contrasting flavours is brewed in Fukuoka, Kyushu ─ a place known for producing high-quality sake.

Food pairing: sushi, sashimi, steamed fish, lightly seasoned foods

2. JUNMAI-DAIGINJO Wakimizu with Golden Leaf (Niigata)

Refreshing on the palate with hints of banana and walnut, this sake is known for its fruity and floral notes. It has a medium texture and body that goes clean on the nose, with a good balance of dryness and bitterness.

Food pairing: Sushi, sashimi, soba, oden, onigiri, wakame salad, zoni

3. JUNMAI-DAIGINJO Asao (Shiga) 

This sake is known for its mild fruity and floral profile that best complements the rich flavours of beef and fermented food. It is thoughtfully brewed with Yamada Nishiki rice and polished to 50%.

Food pairing: Beef, fermented food

4. Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo - 720ml

The best-selling Junmai Daiginjo in Japan that captivates you with its collection of sweet aromas including grape juice, cotton candy, and a hint of lemonade. An easy pair with any food, its subtle sweetness accents when the fluid warms in the mouth.

Food pairing: Mushroom risotto, tempura, fried chicken, caviar, smoked salmon pate


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