The Best Sake To Drink, According To Sake Sommelier Yoshiko Sakuma

The chef and owner of Rabbit House in New York City shared which sake brands she recommends for beginners who are new to the Japanese beverage.
One of the sake Sakuma recommends is <a href="" target="_blank" role="link" rel="sponsored" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="Kurosawa &#x201C;Nigori,&#x22;" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="62448e61e4b0742dfa5a6c12" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="0">Kurosawa “Nigori,"</a> which is a sweet, cloudy sake.
Tippsy Sake
One of the sake Sakuma recommends is Kurosawa “Nigori," which is a sweet, cloudy sake.

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If you’ve ever been to a Japanese bar or restaurant, you’ve likely seen a menu with a list of different types of sake, a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage that’s made by fermenting yeast, similar to the process of making beer. But sake differs in that it’s made with rice, water and koji (a strain of fungus used for various culinary purposes and in the production of alcohol), and can have either a sweet or dry finish. The alcohol content of sake usually ranges from 9-16%.

Rabbit House, an omakase and sake bar that opened six years ago in New York City, has an extensive sake menu thanks to Yoshiko Sakuma, the restaurant’s chef and owner. Born and raised in Japan, Sakuma is deeply familiar with the origins of sake and how it pairs with different foods thanks to her many years of culinary experience working at multiple restaurants around the world.

The owner and chef of Rabbit House in New York City, Yoshiko Sakuma
Photo courtesy of Yoshiko Sakuma
The owner and chef of Rabbit House in New York City, Yoshiko Sakuma

“When I was in Japan, I had the opportunity to work at very nice izakaya-type restaurants. They had a very good selection of sake,” she told HuffPost. “We have so many sake breweries in Japan and some of them have a long history. All the techniques of sake making are getting better because technology continues to advance.”

Because she’s a trained sake sommelier and has a dynamic culinary background, we asked Sakuma to grace us with her sake expertise. Check out Sakuma’s beginner-friendly sake picks to add to your bar cart or to impress your dinner guests. They’re all available on Tippsy Sake, where you can peruse even more types of sake.

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Kurosawa “Nigori”
"I recommend nigori sake for beginners, which is cloudy sake. It’s sweeter and has less alcohol content (8%)," Sakuma said.

Kurosawa “Nigori” has a light-to-medium body and greets your taste buds with fruity flavors. Its opaque color and viscous texture result from it being unfiltered, and it pairs well with savory and spicy foods. It's a sweeter sake with notes of cream and melon and its alcohol content sits at 8%. Though this sake falls under the category of junmai (brewed without the use of additional brewer's alcohol), it also is a part of the subcategory Nigori, cloudy sake that contains particles of unfermented rice grains that were intentionally left during the process. Check out other junmai sake and more nigori sake.
Dassai “45”
"Another type I recommend is Daiginjo sake. It is a higher class sake and has a more pure flavor. Most Daiginjo sake is fragrant and has an aroma," Sakuma said.

Dassai “45” falls under the Junmai Daiginjo category of sakes, meaning it's made using pure rice with no other additives aside from water, yeast and koji. The tasting notes of this 16% alcohol beverage include orange, clove and toasted malt. It's dryer, best served cold and pairs well with meat, sushi, sashimi and seafood. Check out more Junmai Daiginjo sake.
Heiwa “KID” Junmai
Sakuma's third and last sake recommendation is Heiwa “KID” Junmai, which has savory and sweet rice notes, and can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature. It has tasting notes of yuzu, honey and sweet rice and pairs well with cheese, meat and seafood (hello charcuterie board!). It's light, dry and has 15% alcohol.
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