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

Kurosawa  Junmai Kimoto Sake
94 points
$20
Best Buy
Pale straw color. Aromas and flavors of cashew toffee, custard, candied pineapple, sweet vanilla yogurt, cocoa powder, and dried apple with a satiny, lively, fruity light-to-medium body and a seamless, interesting, medium-length finish manifesting impressions of aged charcuterie finish. A juicy, full-flavor Kimoto; pair with spicy fare.
94 points $20 Best Buy
Joto  Junmai Nigori Sake
94 points
$22.99
Opaque straw color. Aromas of bavarian cream, caramel drizzled pineapple, and strawberry kefir with a creamy, crisp, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a seamless, breezy cheese cake, whipped creme, and vanilla finish. A creamy and dreamy Nigori that’s pure and expressive.
94 points $22.99
Hakutsuru  Sho-Une Junmai Daiginjo Sake
94 points
$27
Straw color. Aromas of ripe melon, shiso, grapefruit zest, pear, rainwater, elderflower, caraway, and star anise with a velvety, lively, fruity full body and a layered, long apricot and teriyaki finish. A pure and balanced sake that is a delight to sip and savor; excellent for sushi and crisp summer salads.
Okunomatsu  Ginjo Sake
94 points
$30
Silvery straw color. Aromas of fresh grass, nutmeg, marinated mushrooms, ripe melon, lime-spritzed mango, galangal, and fine cheese with a round, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, nuanced, medium-long herbs and spices, white pepper, and carnation finish. An extroverted and rich Honjozo Ginjo that will be a stupendous meal pairing; try with French or Italian cuisines.
Okunomatsu  Shizuku 18th Generation Ihei Daiginjo Sake
94 points
$130
Silvery straw color. Aromas of granny smith apple, carnation, and lychee with a satiny, vibrant, fruity light body and a warming, interesting, medium-length ripe apricot, key lime, focaccia, toffee, custard, and sea salt finish. An upstanding Honjozo Daiginjo sake with great balance, bright acidity, and stylish profile.
Joto  Junmai Ginjo Sake
93 points
$22.99
Silvery straw color. Aromas and flavors of kiwi relish, strawberries in creme, and chevre with a satiny, lively, light body and a seamless, involved, medium-long finish that presents accents of chamomile, toasty crouton, and shitake finish. A vibrant and cheerful sake with the appeal of French Champagne; fruity, somewhat toasty, with mouthwatering acidity; cheers to your great taste.
93 points $22.99
Hananomai  Katana Junmai Daiginjo Sake
93 points
$35
Silvery straw color. Savory aromas of baked apple and hint of worcestershire sauce with a silky, vibrant, dryish light-to-medium body and a polished, interesting, medium-length flint, anise, crystalized ginger and lemon peel, and white tea with cream finish. An ethereal falsetto of a Junmai Daiginjo.
Yuki No Bosha  Junmai Gingo Sake
92 points
$31.99
Clear color. Aromas of strawberry leaf, rambutan, cherry, star anise, and lilac with a velvety, vibrant, fruity full body and a refreshing, medium-long toffee, apple, ginger and shortbread finish. An elegant, silky and fruity Junmai for fine seafood and sashimi.
92 points $31.99
Shichiken  Junmai Ginjo Sake
92 points
$35
White gold color. Aromas of mixed melon salad, woodruff, sarsaparilla, and slate with a satiny, crisp, fruity light body and a smooth, interesting, medium-long avocado and fresh daikon finish. A bright, off-dry sake with flavors that display a great balance of fruit and spice.
Hatsumago  Shozui Junmai Diaginjo
92 points
$40
Emerald straw color. Aromas of asian pear, butter poached starfruit, aged cheeses, and spiced toffee with a velvety, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light body and a layered, medium-length béchamel, mint creme, and shitake mushroom finish. A creamy, concentrated Junmai Daiginjo that offers elegance, strength, and longevity.