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

  •   Extremely well done A great education and a lot of fun. We have already been able to put what we learned to good use.

    thumb Dave M
    5/18/2019
  •   Great tour, guide is very knowledgeable on sake, it's origin, the means of production etc. Great tasting experience where you can taste the nionshu alone and then with small bites for a food accord which enhance the tasting! Definitely a must!

    thumb amthieu_pl
    5/13/2019
  •   We got a very good overview over the different types of Sake. The Sake we tasted were of various sorts and very good quality. I personally very much recommend to take the tour, highly educational as well.

    thumb Traveler25639065305
    5/10/2019
  •   A excellent tour, we had a very thorough tour of the Gekkeikan Okura museum & factory and we got to see and understand how Sake was and is made today. This was followed by a very well guided tasting and food pairing session with Kotaro...More

    thumb OTdeW
    5/09/2019
  •   I thought I knew a bit about sake, but that was clearly not the case. The course with Kotaro was simply amazing. If you would like to know more about sake, I would definitely recommend this experience!

    thumb azizfirat
    5/08/2019
  •   Kotaro was the perfect host. Outstanding English with an incredible depth of knowledge and experience. Gentle sense of humour and very kind with the complete novice. One of the best tours I've done. No question. If you want a "starters" guide to the complexity of...More

    thumb D6114PGdavidj
    5/07/2019
  •   This is one of the best drinking tours I have been on - ever! My husband and I have always enjoyed sake, but we have such a better understanding of the brewing process, the types and the best foods to pair with which after our...More

    thumb Kristen Z
    5/07/2019
  •   The tour was phenomenal and couldn't have been better! It was just me and friend on the tour, so it luckily turned into a private tour! It really went into depth on the history, the in depth process and how to pair each sake appropriately....More

    thumb Allison N
    5/05/2019
  •   The Kyoto insider sake experience is excellent. The explanations are very clear and smartly associated to the application with tasting of all the different types of sake. I really enjoyed it. This is definitely a worthy experience to keep once you return home.

    thumb C1399GQjeand
    5/05/2019
  •   I signed up for the sake tour for something to do in Kyoto, because I was in Japan, and because I always enjoyed Sake but knew very little about it. Kotaro was super knowledgeable, friendly, and made the afternoon a blast. Kyoto is one of...More

    thumb Mel b
    5/04/2019

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