4 Types of Japanese Sake Their Characteristics and Food Pairings
The beginners may wonder how different each type of sake tastes or smells. Learning about each flavor and aroma will help you enjoy sake more.
Japanese sake is classsified basically into 4 types, based on the flavors and aromas.
There are ”fruity,“ “ light and smooth,“ “ full-bodied,“ and “ matured types.“ The characteristics of each type are as follows:
“Kun-shu“ Fruity type
Aroma : Features gorgeous aromas of fruit or flowers, and has a sense of clarity.
Taste : Has moderate sweetness and roundness, balanced with a refreshing acidity.The brilliant aroma and refreshing flavor are characteristics of this type of sake.
・Namely, “ginjo-shu“ and “daiginjo-shu“ belong to this type.
・Recommended temperatures are between 10 to 16℃ (50 to 61℉).It can be drunk as nuru-kan if you would like the balance of sweetness and sourness.
・Since its aromas are main features, it doesn’t pair well with strong flavored dishes. It’s recommended as an aperitif.
“So-shu“ Light and Smooth type
Aroma : Features a mild and moderate aroma.
Taste : Has a refreshing taste and a smooth feeling in the mouth.Pure aroma and light taste are characteristics of this type of sake.It’s also expressed “ tanrei (light and delicate taste) “.
・Nama-zake, freshly pressed sake, and low-alcohol sake belong to this type.
・Recommended temperatures are around 6 to 10℃ (43℃ to 50℉).The range of proper temperatures for drinking is narrow.
・This type of sake pairs well with many kinds of dishes except fatty foods.It’s good as an aperitif, and with meals.
“Jun-shu“ Full-bodied type
Aroma : Features a natural wood scent, or an aroma conveying umami, like dairy products.
Taste : Features sweetness, acidity, a pleasant bitterness, and a well-rounded richness.
・It has pleasant bitterness and well-rounded taste.Junmai-shu, kimoto- (a traditional starter cultures with natural lactic acid) style junmai-shu, and honjozo-shu belong to this type.
・It can be drunk at 10 to 45℃ (50 to 113℉), the widest range of temperatures.You can enjoy the changes in tastes across “ hana-hie “ to “jo-kan.”
・It pairs well with a huge range of foods. It is best to drink during meals.It doesn’t match well with light and delicate foods.
“Juku-shu“ Matured type
Aroma : Features strong and complex aromas, like spices and dried fruit.
Taste : Has thick sweetness balanced with an acidity mellowed by maturation.
・It is characterized by abundant aromas and full-bodied taste.Some of this type of sake are dark-colored and brownish.
・Ko-shu (aged sake), choki-chozo-shu (long aged sake), and hizo-shu (tresured sake) belong to this type.
・It can be drunk at 7 to 25℃ (45 to 77℉), a wide range of temperatures.
・Since this type of sake has a distinctive and very strong taste, it pairs well with well-seasoned, and rich-flavored dishes.It’s better to avoid raw seafood.
Recommended dishes for each type of sake
|Fruity Sake||Light and Smooth Sake||Full-Bodied Sake||Matured Sake|
|・Seabass or ayu fish grilled with salt
・Grlled sea eel
・・Grilled Japanese beef served with
・Dashi-maki tamago (seasoned omelet), and Chawan-mushi
(steamed egg custard
with assorted ingredients)
(boiled white radish
served with miso
(simmered root crops with soy sauce)
(grilled chicken glazed with tare sauce)
(eel broiled in soy-based
(simmered bony parts
of red snapper )
(braised diced pork)
|・Shrimp avocado salad1
stuffed with minced meat
|・Bang bang ji ( chicken in spicy sauce )
|・Bean-starch vermicelli salad
・Sweet and sour pork
・Mapo Tofu (Szechwan style tofu in spicy sauce )
・Stir-fried beef in oyster
|unfavorable dishes||strong flavored dishes||fatty dishes||light and
|raw seafood dishes|