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 Yamaguchi
92 points
Emerald straw color. Aromas of orange marmalade, pineapple, triple cream cheese, candied ginger, lychee, and rice cakes with a round, dryish light-to-medium body and a seamless, interesting, medium-long yeasty dinner rolls, salted cultured butter, golden kiwi, and strawberry finish. A rich Junmai Daiginjo with silky texture and lengthy flavors; pair with fine meals.
SOTO  Super Premium Junmai Daiginjo Sake
92 points
$39.99
Silvery straw color. Aromas of marinated mushrooms and prosciutto wrapped melon with a round, vibrant, dryish light-to-medium body and a seamless, intricate, long savory green tea, strawberry in whipped cream, clove, and licorice finish. An exceptionally balanced and appetizing Sake with rich flavors and excellent pairability.
92 points $39.99
Sho Chiku Bai  Premium Ginjo Sake
90 points
$8
Best Buy
Silvery straw color. Aromas and flavors of ripe watermelon, sumac, sage, sesame, peppercorns, and rose water pastry with a supple, crisp, fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, layered, medium-long finish displaying shades of kiwi-banana, hints of wet stone and flint. An excellent example of Junmai Ginjo; complex and easy to pair.
90 points $8 Best Buy
Shichiken  Onakaya Tobin Kakoi Junmai Daiginjo Sake
90 points
$400
Silvery straw color. Aromas and flavors of mixed peppercorns, water crackers, kiwis in yogurt, and honey with a supple, crisp, fruity light-to-medium body and a warming, intriguing, medium-long finish revealing accents of sweet apple, nut brittle, and tangerine. A crisp, complex Junmai Daiginjo with enticing fruity aromas.
Manotsuru  "Pure Bloom" Sweet Junmai Ginjo Sake
90 points
$14
Best Buy
Silvery straw color. Aromas of birch, dried citrus, turmeric, and young banana with a round, crisp, off-dry light-to-medium body and a smooth, elegant, medium-length star fruit, sweet yogurt, and guava finish. An off-dry, balanced Junmai Ginjo perfect for spicy fare; round and satisfying.
90 points $14 Best Buy
Soto  Junmai Daiginjo Sake
89 points
$39
White gold color. Aromas of sesame crackers, hints of parmesan, and citronella with a round, bright, dryish light body and a seamless, medium-length mixed melons, hints of banana, and vanilla finish. A round a fruity Daiginjo with a balancing yeasty note.
Manotsuru  "Crane"Junmai Sake
89 points
$12
Best Buy
Silvery emerald straw color. Aromas and flavors of pineapple and guava pastry, yogurt drink, sweet tea, and banana candies with a crisp, dryish light body and an effortless, brisk finish displaying notes of almond milk. A fruity and friendly Sake ready for the sushi bar.
89 points $12 Best Buy
SakéMoto  Junmai Sake
88 points
$12
Best Buy
Silvery straw color. Attractive aromas and flavors of pickled ginger, nutmeg, spicy radish, asian pear, and roasted peach with a supple, soft, dryish light body and a smooth, engaging, medium-length finish revealing impressions of hints of pineapple and strawberry. Enjoy dreamy aromatics with distinctive notes of baking spices.
88 points $12 Best Buy
Sho Chiku Bai  Sho Ginjo Nigori Sake
88 points
$18
Creamy opaque straw color. Aromas of ripe banana, sweet corn bread, and nutty basmati rice with a creamy, bright, fruity medium-to-full body and an even, amusing, medium-length saffron custard, spiced sweet tea with cream, and nut skins finish. A velvety Nigori with sweet grain notes; a good accompaniment to spicy fare.
Sho Chiku Bai  Mio Sparkling Sake
88 points
$22
Creamy emerald straw color. Aromas of jicama and baked apple with a satiny, lively, finely carbonated, moderately sweet light-to-medium body and a seamless, appealing, medium-long coconut-lime sorbet, candied lemon peel and ginger, peach cobbler, and rye crisps finish. A pleasing, sweet and apple-y sparkling sake that will be lovely with the dessert course; hard seltzer drinkers need apply!