Sake Cheat Sheet
Well, technically it is neither. It is just sake. Though the brewing process is similar to beer, it is quite a bit more complicated than either beer or wine.
We recommend you start by learning three:
1. Junmai Daiginjo (JOON-my Die-GIN-jo): Highest Quality. Rice polished to 50% of the original size.
2. Junmai Ginjo (GIN-jo): Next Highest Quality. Rice polished to 60% of the original size.
3. Junmai: Junmai simply means that no alcohol has been added during production. Rice polished to 70% of the original size.
Junmai Daiginjo is a premium sake, brewed with rice grain milled down to 50% of the original size. This removes the proteins and oils that affect the sake’s flavour, leaving the starchy centre which when fermented, yields the cleanest, smoothest sake.
Sake flavour is measured on a spectrum called the Sake Meter Value or “SMV,” which runs from -20 to +20. Positive values are for drier sake, and negative values are for sweeter sake. So, think of wine. If you like a dryer, crisper wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Syrah, look for a + value. If you like sweeter, richer wines like Chardonnay or Zinfandel.