Pages Navigation Menu
Categories Navigation Menu

Sake 101

With over 300 varieties at this year’s sake celebration as well as a handful of noteworthy NYC restaurants in the mix – Megu, Nobu & wd-50 – we thought we’d check in with expert & Joy of Sake event coordinator, Chris Pearce, for a few tips on the basics of sake.

There are three main sake categories – junmai, ginjo and daiginjo – with different ratios of rice polishing.  Generally speaking, the more the rice is polished before steaming, the higher the quality of sake produced. Junmai sakes are polished to at least 65% of their original size, while daiginjo sakes can be polished down to 40% or less.  Junmai sakes are more robust and earthy in flavor, while ginjo and daiginjo tend to be more floral.


  • Sake can be enjoyed cold, at room temperature or gently warmed (heat
    kills flavors so sake should not be served piping hot). Generally, the
    more robust junmai sakes can be warmed while ginjo and daiginjos are
    best cold.
  • When ordering sake in a group, go with a ginjo sake, which should appeal to most tastes.
  • If a restaurant doesn’t list sakes by category – junmai, ginjo, daiginjo – it probably isn’t serious about its sake program.
  • Freshness is key with sake – most breweries in Japan stamp the
    bottling date on the label. You should reject anything bottled in 2006
    or earlier, except yamahai sakes which age more gradually.  (Yamahai is
    a method of making sake.)
  • To preserve freshness, sakes should be refrigerated – whether in a
    store (buy only from refrigerated cases) or kept at home.  Reputable
    importers ship sakes in refrigerated cases.

This year’s Joy of Sake Celebration takes place this Thursday, September 27th at The Puck Building, from 6pm-9pm.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at (212)799-7243.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *