Four important things you should know about sake

Your wine collection may include all manner of grape varietals, but why stop there?

Sake is a Japanese rice wine that has been around for hundreds of years, but is now gaining global popularity. If you haven't explored the tastes and aromas of sake just yet, consider these interesting facts about it.

A beer or a wine?

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Though sake is considered a rice wine, it is actually a brewed beverage, much like beer. In terms of alcohol content, sake is more similar to wine than beer. It is slightly more alcoholic at about 15-16 per cent, but is much weaker than distilled spirits.

Types of sake

4 important things you should know about sake2.pngThere are many different types of sake - in fact, according to Vine Connections, there are more than 50! However, only a select few are commonly used.

ESake describes some of the most popular types of rice wine. The various types are determined based on how much of the rice is ground away, or milled. Junmai-shu sake contains rice that is 30 percent milled - a characteristic that used to be required by Japanese law in order to label sake as Junmai-shu. This type of wine is also pure, so no distilled alcohol is added.

Honjozo-shu is similar to Junmai-shu in that 30 percent of the rice is milled away. However, this sake includes the addition of distilled alcohol.

Ginjo-shu and Daiginjo-shu may or may not contain distilled alcohol and are made of 40 percent milled rice and 50 percent-milled rice, respectively.

A drink for everyone

4 important things you should know about sake3.pngYou know how much we love wine from grapes, but the fact of the matter is that a very small percentage of the population has a negative reaction to sulfites.

Another beverage option - beer - is closed off to people whose bodies can't process gluten. Sake is sulfite- and gluten-free, making it a good choice for your wine collection in case you have visitors with dietary restrictions.

How to serve sake

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Japanese etiquette holds that one's host should always pour his or her sake - pouring your own glass implies that your host is doing a poor job taking care of you!

If you're hosting a party, serve sake that has been chilled in a wine cabinet. You'll want to pour it into traditional masu or ochoko, the cups out of which sake is traditionally consumed.