Greetings Sake Lovers, welcome to another KURAND Magazine article that introduces you to the world of sake.
Generally, sake is enjoyed straight. Many people believe, often with a passion, that it is wrong to mix sake with anything. Thus, for the most part the concept of mixing or adding to sake does not exist. However, we see nothing wrong with a little variation now and then, especially if it makes sake taste even more delicious. In this article we will examine the appeal of mixing water with sake.
Sake is Actually Already Mizu-wari
Compared to wine, beer and other brewed liquors, sake has a higher alcohol content. It is even higher when sake comes out of the fermentation. Sake that has just been made is called genshu and has an alcohol content somewhere around 18-20%. Sometimes this genshu goes onto the market as it is, but most of the time breweries add water to lower the alcohol content. This stage in brewing is called wari-mizu. In other words, while they may not know it, many people are already drinking sake that has had water added to it.
If Doing Mizu-wari, use Genshu
It makes little sense to mix sake that is already mixed with water with more water. After all, the whole point of brewers adding water is to balance out the flavors. However, genshu can actually benefit from a little added balance.
Generally sake that goes on the market as genshu has an alcohol content of 17-18%. This extra alcohol also lends the sake extra body with creates a fuller, richer flavor profile. The first sip may be pleasant enough, but sooner or later you might grow tired of the heaviness of this style of sake. Adding water not only lowers the alcohol content to around 15% and makes it easier to drink without getting drunk but it enables you to enjoy a less aggressive, persistent taste. We recommend tasting the genshu as it is before adding water so that you can experience both versions.
Mizu-wari and Okan: Even More Mellow
Another great way to mellow out genshu is to add water and warm. By heating the mixture of water and sake, flavors blend together better. Warming also accentuates the umami (savory flavors) and prevents the sake from becoming too watery or thin as a side effect of adding water. As explained in previous articles, warming sake matures the flavors and aromas and although brewers don’t warm the sake or the water when adding in the brewery, for some reason or other, the effect is very similar. Less alcohol, more balance and easier to drink – there is nothing but merits to this way of enjoying genshu.
Use nansui (soft water)
Another important factor to consider is the hardness of the water, just as you do when you brew tea. Nansui (soft water) because its light, smooth character does not affect the taste of the sake directly. It also does not affect the aroma of the sake. Most water in Japan is of the nansui ilk so tap water can be used if it passes through a water filter first. If you are outside Japan, it might be better to purchase bottled water.
There really are so many different ways to enjoy sake. Sake really is such a versatile drink. With 5 hours of all-you-can-taste sake, there is no better place than KURAND to discover new ways of enjoying sake! We look forward to welcoming you soon!