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
$92
White gold color. Aromas and flavors of melon and pineapple relish, yuzu shrub, hint of tarragon and bean sprout, and mirin with an vibrant, fruity medium-to-full body and a complex, very long pineapples and starfruit in sweet cream, almost-ripe strawberry, and daikon and jicama finish. A superb world-class daiginjo with fantastically rich and appealing flavors.
Ninki-Ichi  Daiginjo Sake
95 points
$150
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 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
$26.99
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
$42
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 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
$25
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 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
$30
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 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
$35
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 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
$150
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 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
$31.99
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 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
$50
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.