Australians have great wine and the knowledge of wine often causes confusion when considering Sake. Just like wine there is a very large choice. Some sake has pronounced fragrance and yet others have almost none at all. Sake offers a range from dry to quite sweet and yet another dimension is the way the alcohol/acidity gives an instant hit to the palate or offers a more gentle address to the palate.
A significant difference between wine and sake is that the latter generally does not age well. In fact the newer the brew the more prized it is. Indeed, at some boutique Takayama breweries hang fresh ‘ball’ made of Cedar tree leaves (sugidama) outside sake breweries to indicate a new brew is ready. The ‘ball’ ages as time passes till the next brew.
The taste of sake is different region to region. This is because the type of rice and local water impact the taste. The rice is also ‘polished’ and some of the best sake has 70% of the grain polished away to level the valuable core of each grain.
In Japanese restaurants you can often order a sake tasting set (usually 3 different servings) of sake. This is a great way to get an idea of the variety of tastes and contrasts. If you are lucky enough you may have a sake ‘buff’ explain your choices. This is a favourite way for me to enjoy sake. This is why our small group tours offer sake tasting.