Categories: sake

What are the Best Sake Brands?

Whether you are a sake aficionado or new to this delicious Japanese beverage, here is a quick guide to choosing the best sake to complement your meal.

What is Sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made through a precise process that involves the multiple parallel fermentation of rice. The flavor profile is primarily determined by the type and quality of rice, yeast, and water used. Additionally, some sake brands will have added flavoring or alcohol, which can further differentiate the drinking experience. Although many people compare sake to wine, it is more similar to craft beer in the process by which it is made.

Choosing the Right Sake for Your Meal

Sake comes in a wide range of brands, flavors, and price points, so you can choose something that best fits your personal preferences. Unfiltered varieties are a good option for maximizing flavor, while pure rice (“Junmani”) sakes are free of additives. In addition to choosing your flavor of choice, you can decide between enjoying the sake warm or chilled.

Sake is wonderfully versatile. For many diners, it is this versatility that makes sake so enjoyable. As sake is so easy to pair with food, you can be adventurous and try new types on a whim. At many fine restaurants such as Matsuhisa, your server will be able to direct you to an appropriate sake based on tasting notes, food menu for pairing purposes, as well as your level of expertise.

Matsuhisa serves only one brand of sake, Hokusetsu, which is brewed on Sado Island in Japan and sold exclusively at Nobu Matsuhisa restaurants throughout the world. Each of the ten Hokusetsu sakes offered at Matsuhisa displays various characteristics that pair perfectly with different Matsuhisa dishes. – Here are a few of our favorites:

Onigoroshi

Crisp sake with a sharp, dry finish. Onigoroshi pairs particularly well with sweeter flavors, such as Salmon Su Miso. The creaminess of the sauce will juxtapose the acidity of the sake, while the dry finish will highlight the mustard miso’s inherent sweetness.

Music Aged Onigoroshi

Music Aged Onigoroshi is smoother than Onigoroshi, with a richer, more complex flavor. It pairs nicely with full-flavored preparations, such as Albacore Truffle. The smooth finish on this sake contrasts the full-flavor of the dish, while the acidity will bring out the aromas of the truffle vinaigrette.

Dai-Ginjo

Dry up front, sweet on the back end with hardcore banana notes. Dai-Ginjo is delicious with savory preparations, such as Whitefish New Style. The citrus and salt of the preparation perfectly complement the duality of the sake.

Junmai Daiginjo

Clean and complex – Junmai Daiginjo is an evolution of Dai-Ginjo. It has nice floral notes that pair well with umami flavors; specifically, the Umami Bass.

TK-40

Texture with strong alcohol content. TK-40 has a lot of power and is a nice pair with red meat, such as the Lamb Chops (Anticucho). When coupled with the smoky-spice of the anticucho, the sauce magnifies the effect of both the dish and sake.

YK-35

YK-35 is the best, cleanest, and smoothest sake on the menu. It is perfect for bringing the palette back down with sushi and into dessert with a dark chocolate lava cake.

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