Best Sake For Beginners | Guide To Top Sake Recommendations For Beginners

by Erika Shinomoto
best japanese sake

Want to try the best Japanese sake for beginners? Here’s a curated list of the top sake recommendations for beginners by BestJapaneseProducts. We’ve tasted and tested all of them and made a list of our select favorites. Check it out!

Sake is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Japan. Due to the increased interest of people in Japanese culture and Japanese food, sake is now gaining worldwide popularity. Sake has a dedicated fan following all across the planet. It is a beverage that goes so well with every kind of dish. 

Best Japanese Sake: Quick Summary

Best Japanese SakeBest ForCheck price 
Dassai Pure Rice SakeSushiCheck price on Amazon
Hakkaisan’s SakeBeginnersCheck price on Amazon
Suigei Pure Rice Sake WineCookingCheck price on Amazon
Kubota Manzu Rice Sake WineJapanese mealsCheck price on Amazon
Jonzen Joshui Sakebest sake for the moneyCheck price on Amazon
Shichida SakeAperitifCheck price on Amazon
Kikusui Junmai Ginjobest value sakeCheck price on Amazon

Source: Japan Venge

Which is the best Japanese Sake To Get?

Dassai Pure Rice Sake

Best Japanese Sake for Sushi

Are you a fan of sake wine? If you are, then you are at the right place to choose the best. Here is a sake wine from a Dassai store that is made with excellent quality rice that is first polished and then prepared to make the sake wine. 

It is brewed to deliver that perfect beer-like wine flavor. The motive of this brand is not to sell liquor to just make you feel tipsy but also to provide a delicious taste that can be enjoyed too. 

best japanese sake

The process of making this rice wine takes a lot of time and technique like polishing rice, then keeping the yeast in a proper manner to keep the fermentation process easier and better. With all these difficulties, you get a wine that melts perfectly in your mouth and gives that sweet taste.  

Key Features:

  • Sake wine made with Yamada Nishiki rice
  • Brewed and fermented with different techniques
  • Elegant and subtle taste
  • Wine that blends in your mouth and gives an amazing feel

Related: Best Japanese Vodka To Try

Hakkaisan’s Sake

Best Japanese Sake for Beginners

Here is another great option to invest in! Rice sake wine is manufactured in Namiumana because of its cold environment and humid weather. For all your special occasions, this is a perfect choice. 

The wine tastes extremely unique and improvises the whole meal. Although it tastes a bit spicy,, when combined with meals that are heavily grilled and spiced, it brings out the absolutely delicious side of the wine. 

most expensive japanese sake

Traditional ways of brewing and fermenting have been used to provide the best of all wines to you. Since this wine is stored in a cold environment for a long time, the taste gets better and you get balanced sweetness, spiciness and acidity in it. You must give this sake wine a try.

Key Features:

  • Cold store room sake wine
  • Even taste of sweet, spice and acidity
  • Made with the old ways of brewing
  • Extremely delicious and perfect with meals

Related: Best Japanese Beer

Suigei Pure Rice Sake Wine 

Best Japanese Sake for Cooking

Made in Kochi Prefecture, this wine is a perfect one to invest in! Kochi is known for the highest consumption area of Japan. This wine from Suigei, from Kochi Prefecture, is absolutely clean and dry. 

To achieve perfection in making this rice sake wine, the process also takes time and energy. They doubled the rate of rice polishing to bring out the real sake. For brewing, they use Jiuqu technique which keeps the yeast and bacteria mixed together and brews slowly at low temperature to squeeze out the delicacy at its best.

best japanese for cooking

It is light in texture that makes this wine easy to drink. For a better experience, you can try having it with meals or you can also try cooking in this wine.    

Key Features:

  • Made in Kochi Prefecture, known for its superior techniques 
  • Light texture wine and perfectly clean and dry
  • Made with Jiuqu technique for slow fermenting
  • Easy to drink and can be used in cooking

Kubota Manzu Rice Sake Wine 

Most Expensive Japanese Sake

The next one our list of best Japanese sake is the Kubota Mazu Rice Sake Wine.

In terms of its popularity or its quality, Kubota Manzu’s rice sake is known for all. This is a raw whiskey-wine made with cold water in cold weather.

 As the name suggests, it is raw wine, it doesn’t require a lot of techniques or efforts to improvise the taste. Regarding its appearance, the wine is very rich looking in golden color, absolutely clean and clear. 

best cheap japanese sake

The taste is somewhat smooth and silky and also a bit rough and homely. This wine can be taken with famous Japanese dishes to make your meal the happy one.    

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Key Features:

  • Absolutely raw in nature
  • No extra efforts or techniques have been used in its production
  • Suitable to drink with Japanese dishes
  • Tastes homely, plain and simple

Jozen Joshui Sake

Best Japanese sake for the money

This rice sake is another best option to try if you are willing to purchase sake wine in the future. This one is known for its fresh quality water they use in preparing sake. With water, it also has a mellow rice flavor combined and blended with a fruity taste. 

best japanese sake for the money

This combination brings out a flavor that you cannot deny. It is a transparent sake as water is the king of this sake wine. It will definitely remind you of ancient times when there was only water and rice based sake.

You can take this wine on casual days or with a proper meal to make it taste even better. And it’s priced moderately which makes it the best sake for the money!

Key Features:

  • Rice sake made with good quality water
  • Made with yeast and fragrance
  • Light flavor with mild fragrance
  • Water like sake wine

Shichida Junmai Ginjo Omachi 

Best Japanese Sake Served as Aperitif

The next one on our list of best Japanese sake is the Shichida Junmai Ginjo Omachi.

Have a look at this delicious bottle of sake from Shichida Sake Brewery that uses the best quality rice and clean river water to make their rice. The temperature difference of the place helps in building up the taste of sake really well. 

In your first sip, you will have the taste of pure rice blended with fruity flavors. It also ends with the refreshing acidic touch which is loved by many. This sake wine will not only taste well but is also known to improve your immunity with the goodness of rice and good quality water. 

best japanese sake for beginners

Get this sake wine and refresh your mood with its amazing fruit and acidic taste.     

Key Features:

  • Blends in perfectly into the mouth
  • Sake that has the goodness of good quality rice and water
  • Good for people with weak immunity
  • Makes you feel refreshing with acidity

Kikusui Junmai Ginjo 

Best Cheap Japanese Sake

You must definitely give a try to this next one on our list of best Japanese sake! 

This one is a spicy yet refreshing sake wine that is made by the Kikusui brand. To be precise, it is all about how a sake should taste. This alcoholic drink will give you immense pleasure when combined with famous and spicy Japanese dishes. 

best japanese sake for sushi

The production of this sake was done by investing a lot of time and energy to bring out the real sake taste. It is known for its light and soothing nature. Since it is made with a complex fermenting method, you will get a sweetened taste as well.

And for sake this good, the priced quiet affordably. I’d say this is the best value sake you will find!

Key Features:

  • Sake with a rich taste of rice and water
  • Both spicy and refreshing in nature
  • Calms and soothes the mind and body
  • Sweet fruity flavor at the end

Types of Japanese Sake

Japanese sake, often simply referred to as “sake,” is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice. There are several types of sake, each with its own characteristics, brewing methods, and flavors. The main types of Japanese sake include:

  • Junmai-shu (純米酒): Junmai-shu is sake made purely from rice, water, yeast, and koji mold (rice-based fermentation starter). It contains no added alcohol or additives. It is known for its rich and full-bodied flavor and tends to have a higher acidity level.
  • Honjozo-shu (本醸造酒): Similar to Junmai-shu, Honjozo-shu is made with rice, water, yeast, and koji mold. However, it has a small amount of distilled alcohol added during the brewing process. The addition of alcohol gives it a lighter and more refined taste, often making it smoother than Junmai-shu.
  • Ginjo-shu (吟醸酒): Ginjo-shu is a premium sake made with rice that has been polished to at least 60% of its original size, removing a significant portion of the outer layer. It undergoes a slower and more controlled fermentation process at lower temperatures. This results in a complex and aromatic flavor profile, with fruity and floral notes. Ginjo-shu may be either Junmai or Honjozo, depending on whether alcohol is added.
  • Daiginjo-shu (大吟醸酒): Daiginjo-shu is the highest grade of sake and is made from rice that has been polished to at least 50% of its original size. Like Ginjo-shu, it undergoes a slow and meticulous brewing process. Daiginjo-shu is known for its delicate and sophisticated taste, often showcasing elegant and fruity aromas.
  • Namazake (生酒): Namazake refers to unpasteurized sake. Most sakes undergo pasteurization to stabilize and extend their shelf life, but Namazake is bottled and delivered without this process. It tends to have a fresher and livelier taste, with more pronounced flavors.
  • Nigori (にごり): Nigori, also known as “cloudy” sake, is a coarsely filtered sake that retains some rice solids in the final product. As a result, it has a milky appearance and a sweeter, creamier taste. It is often served slightly shaken to mix the sediments and the liquid.
  • Futsu-shu (普通酒): Futsu-shu, also known as “table sake” or “ordinary sake,” is the most common and basic type of sake. It is made with a lower degree of rice polishing and is typically less expensive than premium varieties. It can be a blend of various ingredients, including added alcohol, and is usually enjoyed in more casual settings.
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Each type of sake offers a unique drinking experience, and the choice depends on personal preferences and occasions. If you have the opportunity, I recommend exploring different types of sake to discover the flavors that suit your taste best.

How to Choose Japanese Sake For Beginners?

Choosing the best Japanese sake for beginners can be an enjoyable experience, as there are various options to explore. Here are some tips to help you find a sake that is suitable for beginners:

  • Look for “Junmai” or “Honjozo”: Junmai-shu and Honjozo-shu are excellent choices for beginners. Junmai sake is made purely from rice, water, yeast, and koji mold, while Honjozo has a small amount of distilled alcohol added. Both types tend to have a more robust and traditional sake flavor, making them approachable for newcomers
  • Consider “Ginjo” or “Daiginjo”: If you’re open to trying premium sakes, look for Ginjo-shu or Daiginjo-shu. These higher-grade sakes have undergone more polished rice and a slower fermentation process, resulting in refined and delicate flavors. Ginjo and Daiginjo sakes often exhibit fruity and floral aromas that can be appealing to beginners.
  • Check the Sake Meter Value (SMV): The Sake Meter Value, also known as Nihonshudo, indicates the sweetness or dryness of sake. A positive SMV (+) indicates a drier sake, while a negative SMV (-) indicates a sweeter sake. For beginners, a sake with a slightly positive or slightly negative SMV is generally a safe choice, as it strikes a balance between sweetness and dryness.
  • Try Nigori Sake: Cloudy Nigori sake is unfiltered and retains some rice solids, giving it a sweeter and creamier taste. Nigori sake is often enjoyed by beginners due to its approachable flavors and unique appearance.
  • Ask for Recommendations: Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from knowledgeable staff at liquor stores or restaurants specializing in Japanese cuisine. They can suggest sakes that cater to beginner palates and provide valuable insights.
  • Attend Sake Tasting Events: If you have the opportunity, attend sake tasting events or workshops. This allows you to sample different types of sake and learn about their characteristics firsthand.
  • Consider Food Pairings: Think about the types of food you enjoy or plan to pair with the sake. Some sakes complement specific dishes better than others, and finding a suitable pairing can enhance your overall experience.
  • Read Sake Labels: Pay attention to the labels on the bottles. Some sake labels may have English descriptions or symbols indicating flavor profiles, sweetness, or recommended serving temperatures.
  • Start with Sample Sets: Some stores offer sake sample sets or “flight” tastings, which allow you to try multiple sakes in smaller portions. This is an excellent way to explore different styles without committing to a full bottle.

Remember that everyone’s taste preferences are different, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try various sakes until you find the ones that resonate with you. Sake appreciation can be a delightful journey, and each new bottle can offer a unique experience. Enjoy the process of discovering the world of Japanese sake!

How to drink Japanese Sake in Japan?

When drinking sake, Japan has its own set of rules that you need to follow. These etiquettes will make sure you can sit in a group of your Japanese pals and drink this delicious beverage.

  • When you are drinking sake in a group, make sure that you always pour for other people. This is completely opposite to how people drink in the western countries. In the west, there is a concept called free pour for everyone and anyone. In Japan, you need to wait for someone else to pour your sake. 
  • You also need to hold the flask with both of your hands when pouring sake. Never use only one hand as this is a sign of disrespect.
  • Also, do not leave your sake cup on the table when someone else is pouring sake. Keep the small cup on the palm of one hand with the fingers of your other hand resting in the side. This is a sign of respect.
  • When you are drinking sake in a formal group, make sure to keep in mind the order in which you pour sake. Always start with the most senior person in the group. Use both your hands to pour. You can use only one hand when pouring for a junior. Also, when receiving, follow the etiquette mentioned before. However, if a junior is pouring for you, you can use only one hand.
  • Always raise your cup along with everyone else for a toast. The word for “cheers” in Japan is Kanpai! Clink your glasses together and only then take a sip with everyone else. 

Japanese Sake For Beginners: FAQs

What is the best sake to start with?

The best sake to start with for beginners is typically a well-balanced and approachable Junmai or Honjozo sake. These types of sake have straightforward flavor profiles that showcase the essence of traditional sake without being too overwhelming. Here are some specific recommendations for beginner-friendly sakes:

  • Hakutsuru Junmai Shu: Hakutsuru is a well-known sake brand, and their Junmai Shu is a great choice for beginners. It has a smooth and slightly dry taste with mild acidity.
  • Gekkeikan Haiku Junmai: Gekkeikan is another reputable sake producer, and their Haiku Junmai is a versatile and beginner-friendly option. It offers a clean and crisp flavor with a hint of fruitiness.
  • Kikusui Junmai Ginjo: Kikusui is a popular brand for beginner sakes, and their Junmai Ginjo offers a delicate and fruity taste, making it an excellent introduction to premium sakes.
  • Tozai Living Jewel Junmai: Tozai’s Living Jewel Junmai is a well-balanced sake with a touch of sweetness and a smooth finish, making it appealing to beginners.
  • Kubota Senju Junmai Daiginjo: If you’re open to exploring higher-grade sakes, Kubota Senju Junmai Daiginjo is a more refined option. It still maintains a gentle and approachable taste with subtle complexity.
  • Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo: Dassai is a renowned sake producer, and their Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo is known for its fruity and light flavor, which is highly enjoyable for newcomers.
  • Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai: Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai is a great example of a Kimoto-style sake, which tends to have a richer and deeper taste. This sake is well-balanced and suits various palates.

What is Japanese Sake?

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented rice. It is a drink that is completely different from other alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine. However, sake is a word you would use with a non-Japanese person. For the Japanese, the term that you would use when referring to sake is nihonshu, which means fermented rice alcoholic drink.

Which is the best Japanese sake recommended for beginners?

Otokoyama “Tokubetsu Junmai” (Junmai): Can be served at various room temperatures.
Sakura Muromachi “Bizen Maboroshi” (Ginjo) : Tastes best at cold or room temperature. 
Hakkaisan “Yukimuro” Daiginjo): Great to enjoy near a fireplace and a friend always.

Does sake get you drunk?

If consumed in moderation, sake may produce a mild intoxicating effect, causing a feeling of relaxation, euphoria, and reduced inhibitions. However, excessive consumption of any alcoholic drink, including sake, can lead to intoxication, impairment of motor skills, poor judgment, and other adverse effects.

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Sake, like other alcoholic beverages, contains ethanol, which is the psychoactive ingredient responsible for the effects of alcohol. The alcohol content of sake can vary, but it typically ranges from around 15% to 20% alcohol by volume (ABV). Compared to many wines and spirits, sake tends to have a slightly higher alcohol content.

What is the most popular sake in Japan?

Dassai sake is absolutely the best sake in Japan and iis produced by Asahi Shuzo in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Dassai packs a fruity flavor and a refreshing touch. Known as the number one sake brand in Japan.

Do you drink sake like a shot or sip?

Sake is traditionally sipped and enjoyed like a fine wine rather than taken as a shot. It is meant to be savored and appreciated for its unique flavors and aromas. The drinking etiquette for sake involves taking small sips from a small ceramic or glass cup called a “ochoko” or a “guinomi.”

Should sake be chilled? 

In spite of the fact that the purpose of sake is to be typically served warm, it’s likewise very great either chilled, at room temperature, or hot. The less expensive purpose is regularly warmed to mask its second rate, and premium purpose is served chilled.

Which sake is drunk warm?

Certain types of sake are traditionally enjoyed warm, and the temperature at which sake is served can have a significant impact on its flavors and aromas. The decision to serve sake warm is often based on the style of the sake and the preferences of the drinker. Here are some types of sake that are commonly drunk warm:

  • Honjozo-shu: Honjozo sake is one of the main categories of sake and is made by adding a small amount of distilled alcohol to the fermentation process. It is often served warm to enhance its smooth and mellow characteristics
  • Junmai-shu: Junmai sake, which is made purely from rice, water, yeast, and koji mold, can also be served warm. The warmth can bring out the umami flavors and soften any sharpness in the taste.
  • Futsu-shu: Futsu-shu, also known as “table sake” or “ordinary sake,” is the most common type of sake and is often served warm. It is a less expensive and straightforward style of sake, making it suitable for warming.
  • Nigori: Nigori sake, the cloudy or unfiltered variety, is sometimes warmed to highlight its creamy and sweeter flavors. However, not all Nigori sakes are suited for warming, so it’s best to check the label or ask for recommendations.
  • Kimoto and Yamahai: Kimoto and Yamahai are traditional sake brewing methods that involve natural lactic acid fermentation. Sakes made using these methods often have richer, more robust flavors, and some varieties can be enjoyed warm.
  • Aged Sake: Some aged sakes are served warm to enhance their complex and matured flavors.

It’s important to note that not all sake should be served warm. Premium sakes like Ginjo and Daiginjo, which are known for their delicate and fruity aromas, are generally best enjoyed chilled to preserve their refined characteristics. Additionally, many sakes are versatile and can be served at various temperatures, so you can experiment to find what suits your taste preferences best.

When warming sake, avoid overheating it, as excessive heat can diminish the subtle flavors and aromas. Aim for a gentle warming process to enhance the sake’s taste without overpowering it.

Do you sip sake?

As long as you sip it slowly, like wine or tea, you will enjoy it. It’s a fermented rice drink with a higher alcohol content than either. Just lighten up a little bit and sip it, like you would wine or tea.

Why do Japanese over pour sake?

This is considered as a term for celebration in their style. The overflowing of the pot can be considered an act of kindness by the host as a way to say thank you for your friendship. It also reflects to raise the spirits and to cherish the present moment.

The delicious treat!

Sake is quite an addictive beverage, and not only because of its alcoholic content. The taste is amazing, and you really get a wonderful sensation by drinking it. Also, there are so many varieties that you can try out. And sake is not just about drinking; it is a whole other level of experience. You gain a lot of knowledge as well. So, are you ready to enjoy this famous drink?

Dassai Pure Rice Sake
best japanese sake

Check out the best Japanese sake for cooking, meals, beginners, and more

Product SKU: 009854POK226369

Product Brand: Dassai

Product Currency: JPY

Product Price: 5830

Price Valid Until: 2022

Product In-Stock: InStock

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