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. 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
$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 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.
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
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 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!
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