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A twenty second guide to sake

By Lia Sanders on 1/04/15 11:00 AM

As London sees the launch of its first ever sake tasting course, we thought it was time to get to grips with the Japanese beverage. Here is everything you need to know about sake – without paying £445 for the privilege.

What is it? Although often called a rice wine, sake is made in a brewing process which is more similar to beer, but the drink generally has more alcohol content than beer or wine. In Japan “sake” refers to any alcoholic drink so if you want to order it you have to ask for “nihonshu” which translates to “Japanese alcohol”.

What is it made of? Rice and water are the key ingredients. Rice is “polished” meaning that it is ground down to remove its outer layer.

Many sakes will have distilled alcohol added to them – apart from “junmai”, a designation that means there is no added and alcohol or sugar and often indicates a quality sake. For a rough breakdown of the different categories of sake, look here.

Hot or cold? Every sake has a suggested temperature at which to drink it. But too extreme a temperature is never a good idea.