NO ! Contrary to common belief, sake isn’t a strong distilled spirit. Still poorly understood in Europe, it is frequently confused with Chinese distilled spirit, containing more than 40% vol. and inappropriately termed « sake ». « Nihonshu » (literally « Japanese sake») is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage produced from fermented rice. The resultant 15-17% vol. rice wine is generally translucent, colourless and demonstrate very subtle aromatic qualities. Intrinsically a cultural beverage, sake’s roots are as ancient as the Japanese people and the native Shinto religion.
“ rice is converted into a pure, delicate, aromatic and complex drink, called nihonshu ”
Over the centuries, the sake production methods have evolved towards an extremely complex process, maybe one of the most complicated that can be found in the wine of fine wines :
The first step is the rice polishing, consisting in removing the outer layer of the grain. Those sakes produced from rice that have lost over 40% of the grain’s are called « ginjo ». These sakes generally fall into the “premium” category.
After is has rest for a while, rice is soaked and steamed-cooked. Once it has cooled-down in temperature, one specific part of the grain is inoculated with the « koji » mushroom. For 3 days, the mushroom grows and develops on the rice grain, which is know called « kome-koji » (kome = rice). Actually this mushroom allows conversion of the rice starch into sugar (which will later grant fermentation to start).
A mixture of kome-koji, steamed rice and water is then formed. This concoction (« shubo ») is then seeded with yeasts, which will develop for 1 to 2 weeks. Once the process has reached its peak, a new mixture of kome-koji, steamed rice and water is added to the shubo at the rate of 3 additions in 4 days.
Temperature-controlled fermentation follows during several weeks (up to one month) between 6°C and 20°C until the shubo is pressed. The resulting sake is generally filtered the pasteurised before being released.
Thanks to this laborious and lengthy process, rice is converted into a pure, delicate, aromatic and complex drink, called nihonshu.
Baghera Wines annonces a remarkable masterclasses serie on “Art of Sake” under the aegis of Gautier Roussille, author and sake expert, who will shed light on the the extraordinary aromatic qualities of the Japanese traditional rice wine, called nihonshu.
Rares Sakes and great white Burgundies — Tuesday 15th November 2016 at 6:30 PM
Rares Sakes & iconic Champagnes — Tuesday 13th December 2016 at 6:30 PM