Ultimate Sake Tasting and Food Pairing

Welcome to the World of Sake

Do you have any idea “How the difference of sake rice affects the taste of sake?”

When choosing wine, people check which kind of grapes are used. However, when you choose sake, have you checked which sake rice is used?
We recently carefully compare different sake rice in our tasting and food pairing training. We will share our understanding of how the difference of sake rice affects the taste of sake.

Rice We Tasted

This time we had five kinds of rice including food rice ;
・Yamada Nishiki (山田錦)
Both the size of grain and starch are large so it is suitable for highly polished rice. Also known as king of sake rice.
・Gohyakumangoku (五百万石)
This is the second famous sake rice. The size of grain is small so it is not suitable for highly polished rice.
・Omachi (雄町)
 This is the oldest sake rice. It has been cultivated since Edo period.
・Iwai (祝)
Kyoto local sake rice. Only Breweries located in Kyoto can use this sake rice.
・Koshihikari (コシヒカリ)
 One of the most famous food rice in Japan.

For bottle selection, we set up two requirements so that we could see the difference among them clearly.

1. Category – Junmai, a pure rice sake
2. Usage of 100% of slected rice.

Sake Tasting

Yamada Nishiki: Rich and fruity.
Gohyakumangoku: Light and had strong flavor.
Oimachi: Rich and had strong flavor. We call the people who love its richness, “Omachist”.
Iwai: Light and fruity. It was very easy to drink though it polished to 80%. And the aftertaste was vey refreshing
Koshihikari: It has unique flavor. Some might find it to be too much rice flavored.

sake tasting

Food Pairing

・Yamada Nishiki
This is like an honor student. It goes well with pretty much any food. However, nothing interesting to discover.
・Gohyakumangoku
Tastes light and goes well with light flavor food such as sushi.
・Otomachi
Tastes rich and goes well with rich flavor food such as grilled chicken skewers.
・Iwai
Because of its refreshing taste, great to drink it after eating rich flavor food.
・Koshihikari
Since it’s got strong rice flavor, easier to drink with something weaken its taste.

Having food pairing can be divided into three methods

1. Focusing on Harmony
Those with similar elements are compatible with each other.
Example: Gohyakumangoku goes well with sushi. Omachi goes well with grilled chicken skewers. And Yamada Nishiki goes well with pretty much everything.

2. Focusing on Mariage
When you pair food with a totally different flavor from sake you are having, the combination could be a great surprise.
Example: Koshihikari and (dark) chocolate

3. Focusing on Reseting
When you have food with rich flavor, sake could totally refresh inside the mouth. It will increase your appetite.
Example: Iwai after eating grilled chicken skewers.

food pairing

Personally, I love Kyoto local sake rice “iwai”. So let’s say, I am not “Omachist” but “Iwaist”. It is always fun to discover which sake rice you like through sake tasting and food pairing.

When visiting Kyoto, you can’t miss a sake tour of Fushimi – so why not join us on a hunt for the area’s best sake, and best combination with food pairing session and find your favourite along the way?

BOOK NOW

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Our Sake Tour Reviews

  •   Enjoyed very much. Location was nice. Instructor was great! There was a nice variety of sakes presented. All in all a very enjoyable and informative experience.

    thumb TenMuses
    12/11/2019
  •   I've tried to learn about sake before having gone to several free 'educational' tastings and experiences - this is the first time I've actually absorbed and understood what I was told! Knowledgeable guides, very friendly and helpful who not only answered all our questions about...More

    thumb Ross P
    12/10/2019
  •   As with wine and whiskey, much thought and variability goes into the making of sake. No better way to learn about different kinds of sake and judge the taste for oneself than taking this tour.

    thumb JoshJoshi
    12/09/2019
  •   Kotaro was very knowledgable about the different types of sake, the production process, and what types of food to pair them with. We also learned how to read the labels to identify the different types of sake. The sake itself was delicious, and the pours...More

    thumb Christopher P
    12/09/2019
  •   Kotaro and Maria were both very friendly and knowledgeable during this tour. They gave a good overview of how sake is made, the various types and how to distinguish them, as well as tips for buying sake and pairing it with food. I feel like...More

    thumb mihikareddy16
    12/06/2019
  •   This was an extremely well structured, informative and enjoyable tour. The leader (Kotaro) was very knowledgeable and the visits and tasting were excellent. The notes that were used in the tasting were also excellent.

    thumb DebitoN
    12/05/2019
  •   We learnt so much in a really interesting and engaging way. The guides were so lovely and very informative. One of the highlights of our trip, I would highly recommend!

    thumb Jessica_Melbs_89
    12/02/2019
  •   I really learn more about sake. Just wish it was more in depth. maybe have 2 kind of courses? Also the pairing didn't really work. Only the vintage sake.

    thumb 159jennifer
    12/02/2019
  •   Awesome! Learned so much! That Junmai and cream cheese combo is unforgettable! Great tour, good hosts and unique.

    thumb greengal2017
    12/02/2019
  •   I had tried sake before my trip to Japan, but really knew nothing about it. This tour was great, I left with an understanding and appreciation of sake. I loved being able to try several different kinds of sake, while learning what my preferences were....More

    thumb alisondmoore
    12/02/2019

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