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 Filed as : Wine TipsCocktails


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  • Publish Date: Sep 30, 2009

Across Japan, business deals are sealed over sake, neighbors dropping by to say hello are offered sake, and people love to celebrate with sake. Today is International Sake Day – so we figured we’d honor it with a Sake Sip.

While many may think of Sake as a spirit, it is in fact a wine made from rice. Just like a bottle of vino, sake can be found in a wide variety of styles, and of varying levels of quality.

Premium sake, which accounts for about 20% of the market, starts with premium rice. Regular sake for everyday drinking starts with table rice. But what’s the real difference? Answer: the level of “polish.” The more each grain of rice is “polished” before it is fermented, the higher the quality of sake it produces.

All rice begins with a small protective shell. Higher quality rice has been polished such that only the purest part of the starch remains, which will later be converted into alcohol. There are three most common differentiations in calibers of premium sake. They include:

Junmai – basic sake, at least 70% of rice remains post-polish

Junmai Ginjo – 60% of the original rice kernel remains, even more complex than Junmai sake

Junmai Daiginjo – the most polished (at least 50% of the grain is removed), thus most expensive sakes on the market

So go out, get a bottle, and toast, “Banzai” (meaning “10,000 years,” or "wishing you a long life") on this Sake Day!

Visit to checkout one of the few sake breweries in the US (based in Oakland).

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