About Japanese Wine

About Japanese Wine
Wine in Japan is all about sake; while some write about it being brewed in the manner of a beer, we are defining it as a wine. It is a beverage of ancient traditions that continues to be enjoyed by the elite in Japan as well as the common man - as well as consumers in many countries.

Produced from rice, a typical sake has a pale straw or silver color with aromas ranging from nougat and coconut to melon, dried pineapple and honeyed nuts. Medium-full (alcohol is around 18%), these are best enjoyed with Asian or fusion cuisine.

Sake is generally served at room temperature or slightly chilled. A sake that is heated and then served is probably not of the highest quality.

Top Picks for Japan

Asahi Shuzo  Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo Sake
97 points
White gold color. Attractive, sour aromas of bitter melon, yuzu shrub, white balsamic drizzled pineapple, and mirin with a satiny, crisp, fruity light body and a graceful, engaging, medium-length exotic salt, almost-ripe strawberry, starfruit cream, and jicama finish. A silky and very appetizing sake that will be best with lighter fish varieties.
Ninki-Ichi  Daiginjo Sake
95 points
Light silvery emerald straw color. Aromas and flavors of pineapple husk, rice pudding, sea spray, peanut and almond butters, lychee blossom, and rice paper with a satiny, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, delightful, very long finish revealing elements of pineapple in coconut milk with mint, candied papaya and mango, radish and sweet peas, and bamboo and cashew fruit finish. A supple, fruity and chewy daiginjo that is sure to satisfy fans of Alsacian Gewurztraminer.
Joto  Junmai Ginjo Sake
94 points
Brilliant silvery emerald straw color. Aromas of rye, violet, melons, red apple, and toasted sesame with a round, crisp, fruity medium body and a seamless, interesting, medium-long anisette biscotti, taro dessert, tapioca, and ginger powder finish. A silky-smooth, starchy Junmai Ginjo that will be excellent with pate.
94 points $26.99
Kenbishi  Mizuho Junmai Sake
94 points
Rich yellow straw color. Roasted, attractive aromas and flavors of toasted rice with tamari and butter, honey roasted nuts, and carob with a satiny, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, appealing, long finish that shows impressions of nectarines with malted chocolate, figs and melon rind, and praline finish. A complex combination of sweet and savory tones makes this a natural choice for pairings; sherry-lovers need apply!
Kurosawa  Junmai Kimoto Sake
93 points
Brilliant emerald straw color. Aromas and flavors of bananas foster, mangoes on a stick with chili powder, lipstick, and smoked herbs with a satiny, bright, fruity medium body and a warming, amusing, medium-long finish that shows suggestions of spiced apples with caramelized bacon, coconut custard, cashew fruit, and honeyed jicama and endive finish. A savory and appealing and finely balanced kimoto that will be very versatile.
Okunomatsu  Ginjo Sake
93 points
Light straw green color. Aromas and flavors of spiced dried pineapple kiwi and papaya, delicate cashew butter, hint of kidd leather, and orchid and mint with a satiny, bright, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a sleek, appealing, medium-long finish with elements of ripe starfruit, melon, and nectarine, banana in coconut water, and sweet lettuce finish. An ethereal and tasty ginjo that drinks like a daiginjo and will appeal to Italian pinot grigio drinkers.
Yamanashi Meijo  Shichiken Junmai Ginjo Sake
93 points
Bright silvery emerald straw color. Aromas and flavors of star anise, spearmint, starfruit, and tarragon with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity light body and a seamless, complex, medium-long finish that shows overtones of strawberry dust, aloe, and salt finish. An elegant Junmai Ginjo with delicate fruits and an exceptional mouthfeel; divine.
Okunomatsu  Daiginjo Shizuku 18th Generation Sake
93 points
Pale silvery emerald straw color. Aromas and flavors of macadamia nut brittle, dried papaya and coconut trail mix, roasted apples with honey butter, and egg whites with toast with a satiny, vibrant, fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, complex, long finish displaying notes of frosted raisin bran, agave, peach cobbler with sweet tea, pineapple in coconut water, rice pudding, and apple candy finish. A powerfully delicious, fruit tsunami of a sake.
Yuki No Bosha  Junmai Gingo Sake
92 points
Pale silvery emerald straw color. Fruity aromas and flavors of pineapple chunks in a cedar cowl, fruitcake, pink peppercorn on key lime, and guava herb tea with a silky, crisp, fruity full body and a tingling, delightful, medium-long finish imparting accents of pineapple kefir, spiced melon, and pepper finish. A bright, tropical junmai bursting with flavor.
92 points $31.99
Tohoku Meijo  Hatsumago Junmai Daiginjo Shozui Sake
92 points
Brilliant silvery emerald straw color. Spicy aromas of apple-cinnamon yogurt, baking spices, mulberry, fresh cut grass, clove studded orange peel, and soy glazed walnuts with a round, lively, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a warming, nuanced, long key lime cheesecake, buttered brioche, and green peppercorn finish. An excellent Daiginjo with endless complexities and fine structure.