Exciting New Trends of Japanese Sake

Japanese SAKE
©Nishihama- Fotolia

Boasting an umami that is unavailable in other kinds of alcohol, sake provides a clean taste profile as it is made from fermented rice, water and koji mould. In fact, koji mould enhances the benefits of sake so much that beauty companies are starting to use it as an ingredient in their products! With interest in Japanese sake gaining traction not just domestically but globally, sake breweries have capitalized on this interest to introduce novel trends to help push sake as the new drink fad. Perhaps you would like to take note of these exhilarating trends so as to enhance the pleasure you derive from drinking sake!


Hip ways to learn about sake

月桂冠 大倉記念館, Foursquare.com
Sure, you can boost your knowledge of sake the conventional way by visiting educational museums like the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum in Kyoto or signing up for brewery tours in Akita. But what happens if you just want to know more about the sake that you order off the menu at an izakaya (Japanese-style pub)? This is especially so when there are around 100,000 kinds of sake produced by 1,800 to 2,000 breweries in Japan, so it is impossible for one to be familiar with the diversity of the flavor of all these sake. Thankfully, useful apps are there for the rescue. Sakefan World, for one, empowers you to learn about the name, brewery and even history of the sake you are drinking, simply by scanning the label on the sake bottle. Another similar app is Sakenomy that was developed by the famous ex-national team soccer player, Hidetoshi Nakata. Utilizing such image-recognition technology enables you to get up to speed quickly about the features of the sake you are consuming. Who knows? You might just become a sake connoisseur in no time at all!


Intriguing new pairings to complement sake

by laverrue, CC BY

Many people have the misconception that sake can only be paired with Japanese food. Thus, sake practitioners — eager to debunk this fallacy — currently venture to overseas food fairs to educate foreigners about the kinds of Western cuisine that would pair well with their sake. Indeed, sake, being less acidic than champagne, complements well with seafood like oysters as its cleansing properties help remove the briny taste. Sake’s versatility does not just end with Western food. Many pastry chefs and cocktail mixologists whip up delectable desserts and artisanal cocktails by infusing sake together with jelly or fruit juice. As sake boasts a light and refined taste, this helps create a well-balanced dessert or cocktail in which you can savor deeply the flavor of each and every ingredient!


Memorable experiences for sake-tasting

by rail02000, CC BY-SA

Given the Japanese’s flair for attention to details, you can trust them to consider the totality of the surroundings and provide holistic sake-savoring experiences. Case in point: the resort train “Koshino Shukura” that runs between Joetsu Myoko Station and Tokamachi Station in Niigata. What better way to live life loud than to take in picturesque gorgeous scenery while sipping local sake and eating Niigata’s signature dishes along the way? As if this is not enough, jazz performances are held daily, thus putting you in the best conducive mood possible to enjoy the finer pleasures in life. In another feat of innovation, the animation company Mobile Suit Gundam collaborated with Takaoka Imono, a traditional craft store in Toyama to produce tin sake cups in the form of Gundam character heads. Surely, drinking sake from such cool heads appeals to the otaku in all of us, increases endorphins and elevates the whole sampling experience!


Groundbreaking techniques to produce sake

磯自慢酒造, Foursquare.com
Guided by exacting standards they demand of themselves, sake manufacturers are careful to infuse interesting methods together with age-old cherished traditions of brewing sake. For one, music therapy is put to good use at Ohara Brewery in Kitakata City, Fukushima as classical Mozart music is played to stimulate the fermentation activity of the yeast and enhance the fruity flavor of the sake produced. Not to be outdone, the world-renowned Isojiman Premium Sake Brewery in Shizuoka was the first brewery to wall its facility fully with stainless steel so that the temperature could be kept constantly between 5C – 6C so as to maintain the exceptional quality of the sake. Last but not least, other sake producers have also pioneered other wacky methods such as sending the yeast to outer space or keeping their bottled sake undersea, so even the sky is no limit!
With the wide spread of exciting trends ranging from production methods to sampling ways, sake promises to be an intoxicating beverage that continually reinvents itself to give consumers new sensations and taste dimensions. Hence, do not forget to order sake during your next meal to show support to Japan’s sake industry!



Kai Le likes nothing better than exploring a foreign city and meeting fellow travelers along the way. He hopes to write about cross-cultural commonalities and differences.