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Must-Try Sakes: Sipping Japan

One of Japan's most iconic offerings to the world is sake, a delectable rice wine that captures the essence of the country in a bottle. We're here to guide you through the must-try sakes that every traveler should experience.

1. Junmai Daiginjo

Junmai Daiginjo is crafted with rice grains milled down to at least 50% of their original size. This meticulous process ensures impurities are eliminated, resulting in a sake that's fragrant, delicate, and often described as "ethereal." Dassai 23, with its fruity aroma and velvety finish, stands out as a popular choice.


2. Nigori

Visually distinct with its milky appearance, Nigori is coarsely filtered, leaving behind some rice particles. This results in a creamier, richer flavor. Rihaku "Dreamy Clouds" is a sought-after Nigori, offering a harmonious balance of dryness and fruity notes.


3. Honjozo

Honjozo is lightly fortified with a small amount of distilled alcohol, enhancing its aroma and flavor. It's versatile, making it suitable for both warming and cooling.


4. Namazake

Unlike its pasteurized counterparts, Namazake is unpasteurized, giving it a lively and fresh profile. This sake is typically enjoyed chilled to appreciate its vitality. Kikusui "Perfect Snow" is a delightful Namazake variant, boasting a creamy texture.

5. Sparkling Sake

For those who love a bubbly treat, sparkling sake is a must-try. Carbonated naturally or artificially, its light, effervescent nature is perfect for celebrations. Mio Sparkling Sake stands out with its refreshing sweetness and subtle acidity.

6. Ume-shu

Though not sake in the traditional sense, Ume-shu or plum wine, is a sweet liqueur made with Japanese plums, sugar, and alcohol (often sake). It's a dessert in a glass, with a tantalizing blend of sweet and sour. Choya is a renowned brand, delivering a consistent and delightful Ume-shu experience.


Tips for Travelers

Pairing: Just as with wine, sake can be paired with a variety of dishes. For instance, Junmai Daiginjo pairs beautifully with sashimi, while a robust Honjozo complements grilled meats.

Temperature Matters: While some sakes are best enjoyed chilled, others, like Honjozo, can be relished warm.

Local Breweries: One of the joys of traveling through Japan is visiting local breweries. Engage with the makers, understand their craft, and relish fresh pours right from the source.