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.
Kurosawa  Daiginjo Sake
94 points
$60
Bright silver color. Attractive aromas and flavors of ripe pineapple and apples, spiced baked peaches, black walnut nougat, and bread and rice puddings with a silky, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a seamless, interesting, snappy fruit salad, banana and fig, and hint of spice nuts finish. A stylish sake with a great dichotomy of richness and ethereal lightness.
Awards: 2017 Top 3 Best Sake
Ichishima  Ginnoyorokobi Competition Daiginjo Sake
94 points
$170
Clear silvery straw color. Fruity aromas and flavors of honeyed melon, cinnamon spiced asian pear, lily and blueberry scone, and marinated mushrooms with a silky, bright, fruity medium body and a smooth, intriguing, medium-long coconut milk, tapioca, and spiced mangos and pears in cream finish. A rich, complex and serene sake that is a pleasure to drink.
Awards: 2017 Top 3 Best Sake
Okunomatsu  Daiginjo Shizukuzake 18th Generation Sake
93 points
$150
Clear silvery straw color. Fruity, attractive aromas and flavors of asian pear, ripe pineapple, anise, and candied lavender with a silky, bright, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, elaborate, very long sweet peach tea, almond nougat, coconut milk, and delicate spices finish. A fantastically flavorful and inviting sake with remarkably deep fruit and spice flavors.
Okunomatsu  Tokubetsu Junmai Sake
92 points
$25
Pale straw color. Fruity, green aromas and flavors of asian pear and pineapple husk with a velvety, bright, fruity medium-to-full body and a seamless, complex, long melon, tapioca, strawberry rice candy and yogurt, and chamomile tea with cream finish. A rich, rewarding Junmai with lots of clearly delineated flavors, character and impact.
Awards: 2017 Best Junmai Sake
Kasumi Tsuru  Kimoto Extra Dry Sake
92 points
$27
Bright silvery straw color. Aromas and flavors of toasted nut pastry and white chocolate strawberry with a silky, bright, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and an even, captivating, medium-long tapioca and dried fruits finish. An elegant, nuanced sake that has a come-hither style.
Shichiken  Junmai Ginjo Sake
92 points
$30
Emerald straw color. Tropical aromas and flavors of banana custard, melon-apple sorbet, and seaweed salad with a supple, bright, off-dry medium body and a tingling, medium-long coconut milk, almond nougat, and spiced papaya and pear finish. A crisp, very fruity and easy drinking Junmai ginjo.
Yoshinogawa  Gokujo Ginjo Sake
92 points
$30
Pale silvery straw color. Aromas and flavors of pineapple, melon, and honeycrisp apple with a silky, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, medium-long chestnut honey on pistachios, banana-papaya sorbet, and sweet pepper and white mushroom finish. A very tasty, elegant and nuanced ginjo with wide appeal.
Kasumi Tsuru  Yamahai Junmai Ginjo Sake
92 points
$39
Pale white gold color. Complex, earthy aromas and flavors of bison grass, honeyed corn bread, green pineapple, banana and papaya, and floral talc and pomade with a satiny, bright, fruity medium body and a silky, delightful, long spiced pear, almond cookie, and pineapples and kiwis in sweet cream finish. A delicious, appetizing sake with great flavor and poise.
Ichishima  Junmai Daiginjo Sake
92 points
$70
White gold color. Aromas and flavors of cashew fruit and nougat, apples in vanilla cream, melon rind, and coconut custard tart with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a polished, interesting, medium-length nectarine and starfruit, golden beet, honeyed nuts, and bibb lettuce finish. A nice balance of fruit and savory vegetable tones make this a natural choice for the table.