Must-try Japanese drink: How to pick a sake that you’ll like

There are many people who tried a recommended sake for the first time and were taken aback by its unexpected spiciness, sweetness and high alcohol content. As a result, they stopped drinking - it did happen to many Japanese young people. The best way to get the most out of your sake experience in Japan is to enjoy a locally produced sake which is called ‘jizake’.

Sake can be savoured throughout the year, matching the season. It is served chilled in the summer and warm in the winter. Similar to wine and beer, Japan has a huge selection of sake varieties and brewing regions to make your journey a memorable experience. But if you want to start with the basics, here are some tips on the preferred dosage, beginner-friendly types and best souvenirs to bring back home. We’ll help you to wrap your head around this delicious drink!

How to choose a sake for beginners

When selecting a wine, you may prefer a heavy or light body, fruity or refreshing. Picking sake works the same way. When you choose sake at the store, narrow down a few brands that match your preferences on the key points:

  • Sweet or dry
  • Heavy or light aroma
  • Tastes refreshing after drinking or leaves a pleasant aftertaste in the mouth

For those who have difficulty in choosing between sweet and dry, a good rule of thumb is to select junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo sake.

Junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo are regarded by many as well-balanced drinks because of the rich and fruity aroma along with a medium sweetness, spiciness and a crisp taste. They are easy to drink and a perfect fit for beginners. To see the differences between the various production methods and ingredients, feel free to read this article.

Some sake specialty stores offer a sake sample set which is a great way to delve into the flavors of Japanese sake and compare by yourself.

If you like refreshing or soda taste, you might find a sparkling sake particularly appealing. Since it’s easy to drink for beginners, it can be found in Japanese izakaya. Sparkling sake may become the drink of choice for cocktail lovers and first-time drinkers thanks to the mild, sweety taste. Several Japanese brands, such as Dassai, produce  sparkling alcoholic beverages and we strongly encourage you to compare and choose sake to your liking. Sparkling sake has become mainstream in Japan and is sold at convenience stores. Easy to drink, buy and ideal for souvenirs!

How to choose sake based on factors other than taste

Sake bottles can be used not only for a fancy booze but as home decor. One of the ways to attract sake drinkers’ attention is with an eye-catching label. Choose your favorite label and make a double use of it by displaying at home and savoring the taste.

These are just several tips on choosing the best fit, but we hope you’ll taste a range of sake varieties and regions and find your favorite bottle of the Japanese rice-based booze. The list of your favorites should keep expanding!