Info pages

Used Terminology

Acidity

Created by the yeast fermentation process, the acids are perceived in the sakefs sourness and tanginess. The acidity counterbalances the sweetness of a sake so a high acidity will make the sake taste drier than it actually is. The range is usually from 0.9 to 2.0 with junmai and yamahai sake tending to fall in the higher end of the range.

Amino Acids

Produced by the fermenting action of the yeast the amino acids give the sake its depth of flavour. They contribute to the level of umami in sake which can affect how dry or sweet a sake is perceived to be. Most sake fall between a range of 0.8 and 1.2. Those at the lower end of the scale are usually more elegant and delicate; those at the higher end are usually more full-bodied.
The amount of acid contained in sake determines its flavor. However, it’s important to pay attention to the types of acid present as well. These acids may include lactic acid, succinic acid, malic acid, and citric acid. For example, if lactic acid is present in cold sake, it will have a stimulating sourness, but warming the sake removes that sharpness so that it tastes quite mellow. Two types of sake that are known for having high levels of lactic acid are those made according to the kimoto and yamahai methods. These types of sake have lactic acid bacteria naturally propagating, and this amount is increased during the brewing process. Even more lactic acid is then produced in the development of the kōbo (yeast starter culture). Because of this, if these types of sake are consumed cold, they taste sharp. However, if they are warmed first, there is no sharpness, and the sake tastes refreshing. Succinic acid is a constituent associated with umami or savoriness, and gives sake body. It is known as a constituent that gives sake a mellow sourness. Apart from these, malic acid is found in fruits such as apples, and citric acid is contained in citrus fruits such as lemons. As you would imagine, these acids have a sharp sourness. If the sake is consumed cold, the taste is crisp, but if it is warmed, the taste becomes blurred. For this reason, these acids are often present in sake that is chosen to be served chilled in summer.

Yeast

Brewers" Alcohol

Nama

Nigori

Nihinshudo

Sake

Tokubetsi

Amino Acids

Generally speaking, if the quantity of amino acids is high, the sake will have umami (or savoriness) and body (or substance). If the level of amino acids is too high, the flavor will be strong and heavy. On the other hand, if the level is low, the flavor will be light and refreshing. The outer layers of a rice grain contain a large amount of protein. Because proteins are composed of amino acids, if not much of the outer layer of the rice is polished off, the sake produced with it will contain a lot of amino acids. For sake types such as ginjō-shu, the aim is to remove as much as possible of any odd flavors, so the rice is polished to remove most of the outer layers. Doing so gives the sake a clear, refreshing taste. Depending on the combination of factors represented by the sake meter value, the acidity level, and the amino acid level, the perception of dryness or sweetness, strength of flavor, and the feel of the sake in the mouth will all vary.

Amino Acids

Sake Meter Value

Sweet-Dry