What's In A Name?

After a few weeks of tasting, you may now have a good feel for the categories and styles of saké you prefer, but once you’re standing in front of shelves upon shelves of saké, how do you choose which one to take home? Easy. It's all in the name. The saké name is a string of descriptors that define and provide clues as to what the saké will taste like. Those categories and styles you love can almost always be found on the bottle making it easy to the trained eye to pinpoint the perfect saké to take home.

As an example, let us break down the name “Momokawa Pearl: Junmai – Ginjo – Nigori – Genshu

Momokawa” Is the product’s brand name – one of 7 Momokawa products.

Pearl” is the product name, differentiating it from the rest of the Momokawa family.

Just reading “Momokawa Pearl” doesn’t tell you much though, does it? The remaining words give more detail on what type of saké it is

If “Junmai” comes after the brand and product name, that means no additional ingredients were used beyond the core four (Rice, Water, Koji, Yeast).

Next we have “Ginjo”. Meaning you have a super-premium saké with rice polished down to 51-60% of its original size. The word Ginjo also indicates the saké will feature a light, fragrant and complex fruity and floral tasting profile.

Nigori” means the saké has been coarsely filtered and will be “cloudy” with some rice sediment remaining after pressing. The sediment produces a nice creamy texture.

Genshu” lets you know this saké is undiluted, meaning the alcohol by volume will tend to be higher, and the flavor and body typically heartier.

Big and bold names on the front can get confusing, especially if most of the label is in kanji. Breweries have many ways they name their saké. Sometimes putting the brewery’s name first, with category and style descriptors next, like Kasumi Tsuru Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai. That brewery could also use an English product name like Yoshinogawa’s “Winter Warrior” with category and style descriptors on the back. If the descriptive name isn’t obvious, give the bottle a quick once-over. It may be hidden elsewhere in smaller text.

Because saké names can get lengthy, making it hard to remember the name of one you absolutely love, it’s incredibly helpful to write the name down somewhere, or better yet, snap a picture of the label with your phone.

Be sure to reference  “What Your Style?” parts 1 & 2 and “Pick A Category, Any Category!” for refreshers. Snag that perfect bottle and stay tuned for some wonderful food pairing suggestions next Sunday, right here on Sake-Sunday.com. We’re taking requests, so send us that saké name, and we’ll post a perfect pairing for you.

Not sure where to find our products? Shoot us a note at info@sakeone.com and we’ll direct you.