What are recommended sake for beginners to try?
- Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo Snow Aged
- Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo
- Dassai 39 Junmai Daiginjo
- Gekkeisan Traditional Sake
- Urakasumi Junmai Shiboritate Namazake
- Amabuki Junmai Daiginjo Namasake Strawberry Yeast
- Tatenokawa Seiryu 50 Junmai Daiginjo
Sake’s texture, aroma, body, and structure are dependent on a variety of factors — so how does one choose amongst Ralph’s Wines & Spirit’s sake catalog?
Generally, we recommend sake made with highly-polished rice for beginners because these typically have lighter bodies and fragrances. But for those who like bolder, earthier flavors, then we recommend sake made from gently-milled rice or aging techniques.
Whatever your tastes are, the following is a list of our recommended sake for beginners to start their sake-tasting journey.
Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo Snow Aged
Snow-aged in a special process, the Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo Snow-Aged sake encapsulates the creamy freshness of snow. The brewery takes great care in maturing and chilling their sake in a massive amount of snow stored in an insulated room, known as their “Yukimuro”. This aging method has been used for centuries and provides a very stable aging environment for alcohol.
After three years, the Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo Snow-Aged sake becomes very round and smooth. This aging process brings out very different flavors and much earthier flavor elements. As a result, this Hakkaisan offering is a complex and smooth sake. This drink is highly recommended, and it tastes exquisite when drunk cold, or enjoyed in colder weather.
Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo
If you like full-bodied reds like a Cabernet Sauvignon, then try a sake from Dassai. These sakes from the Yamaguchi prefecture have a similar boldness and tend to be rich and fruit-forward.
From Dassai, we highly recommend tasting the Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo. With a bottle wrapped in an obi-like ribbon, and encased in an inviting blue bottle, it's an exquisite-looking drink ideal for any special occasion. The drink itself has a flowery delicateness and a smooth and satisfying finish. This sake is best enjoyed cold, and pairs well with shellfish, octopus, and squid.
Dassai 39 Junmai Daiginjo
Another recommendation for beginners also comes from Dassai. The Dassai 39 Junmai Daiginjo, is made with rice that’s polished down to just 39% — this level offers a light body and graceful finish. The taste is exceedingly pleasant and has bright floral and green apple notes.
This dry and well-balanced sake is a good option for beginners. We recommend picking up a bottle and having it with appetizers, where its fragrance doesn’t clash with this junmai daiginjo.
Gekkeikan Traditional Sake
The world’s most popular Junmai-shu, the Gekkeikan Traditional Sake embodies the brewery’s signature style and represents generations of sake brewing experience. The Gekkeikan Traditional Sake is enjoyed by many for its versatile taste, dry and mellow flavors, and a light earthiness. It has good acidity, is mineral-driven, and has a clean, medium finish.
If you’re a big fan of Japanese cuisine, this sake may be a good choice for a Japanese dinner. It tastes delicious when served with tempura, shellfish, green vegetables, and fish common in this style of cuisine.
Urakasumi Junmai Shiboritate Namazake
If you’re looking for a lively drink, we suggest trying a namazake-style sake. Unpasteurized and freshly-pressed, this style of sake has prominent fresh aromas, freshness, and umami flavors.
From our wide selection of drinks, we present the Urakasumi Junmai Shiboritate Namazake. This drink is a draft sake to be enjoyed as soon as possible and goes well with a wide array of dishes. It’s a full-bodied sake packed with umami, highlighted with hints of melon, strawberry, muscat, tropical fruits, and steamed rice. This complex flavor profile is noted to give quite a unique smelling and tasting experience.
Amabuki Junmai Daiginjo Namasake Strawberry Yeast
Sake can also be made from yeast. Historically, this ingredient was extracted from strains in sake mash. However, at Amabuki brewery, they use a strain extracted from flowers — and this innovative step truly makes a difference in their products.
Flower yeasts are full of individuality, and each type has its own distinct flavors and aroma. The Amabuki Junmai Daiginjo Namasake Strawberry Yeast is our top pick for a beginner sake drinker. This option has a refreshing sweetness reminiscent of plump, ripe strawberries. This appealing flavor is accompanied by a fresh sourness that gradually reaches your palate.
Tatenokawa Seiryu 50 Junmai Daiginjo
If you’re a fan of drinks that are light, fruity, and easy on the tongue, then the Tatenokawa Seiryu 50 Junmai Daiginjo may be the drink for you. This pick has a smooth and crispy mouthfeel, with a tropical fruit flavor, hints of sweetness, and a nice dry finish.
We recommend this sake as it’s a good choice for leisurely drinking. Its profile is relatively light and sweet due to its lower alcohol content. It has a balanced acidity — perfect for less experienced drinkers — and is fruit-forward in taste, with some dairy and cereal notes.
There is a wide variety of flavors and profiles in our sake catalog that are ideal for novice drinkers. While we do recommend using our list of sake for beginners, feel free to peruse and sample the different styles from different breweries. Whatever your preferences are, or where you’re at in your sake journey, Ralph’s Wines & Spirits has just the right drink for you.