Filled with loads of sake in the market, finding the right sake for yourself seems tacky. To find a sake that suits your taste buds, it is essential to understand different types of sake.
Sake is usually categorized into four general sections based on aroma and texture – Aromatic, Refreshing, Rich, Aged. This is a simple yet useful guide to find a sake to pair with your meal.
1. Aromatic sake (Kun-shu, くんしゅ)
With floral, fruity notes of melon, apple and white flower, sake in this category have a distinctive floral aroma, best to serve chilled, at around 10-15 °C. Ginjo and Daiginjo are in this category. Aromatic sake is best to pair with dishes with fruits, vegetables and herbs. These kinds of sake can also be served as an aperitif.
2. Refreshing sake
Sake in this category are generally refreshing, taste is light, and pairs amazingly with various dishes. These sake are best to taste chilled so to taste the freshness. Futsu-shu and Honjozo shu are in this category. Refreshing sake can be tasted with Tofu and Japanese steamed eggs, oysters, white meat sashimi, and even chicken skewers.
3. Rich sake (Jun-shu, じゅんしゅ)
Jun-shu generally has strong umami and rice aroma, the texture is thick as well. Rich sake can be tasted at room temperature or heated up. Junmai-shu, Honjozo shu, and Kimoto sake are in this category. Rich sake can pair with Tuna sashimi, grilled oyster, creamy dishes, grilled beef or pork.
4. Aged sake (Juku-shu, じゅくしゅ)
With three-year ageing, Juku-shu (Aged sake) developed into gold or amber colour, with dried nuts, honey and woody aroma, along with strong umami flavour. As the sake is aged, the texture has become smooth yet thick. Best to pair with distinctive flavour cheese, eel, fish sauce, Sukiyaki and lamb chop. Serve at room temperature or slightly heated up can enhance the flavour.
The four-category mentioned is a somewhat subjective classification; some sake may land ambiguously; some may be difficult to categorize (such as Sparkling sake and Nigori sake). However, this classification mapped out a simple concept for beginners to find a sake that they may fall in love.
Yet, the best way to find the right sake for yourself is to taste more.