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home > food & wine dictionary > sake

Food and Wine Dictionary

Brown text or background indicates a food entry.
Blue text or background indicates a wine entry.

 sake    [SAH-kee, SAH-kay]

Although sake is often called Japanese rice wine, it's difficult to categorize as wine because it's not made from fruit-in fact, some consider it a beer because it's made from grain. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), however, settles any dispute by categorizing sake in Class 6-wine from other agricultural products. Sake is made in several steps, during which the starch of specially selected, steamed rice is converted to sugar and then to ALCOHOL and CARBON DIOXIDE through FERMENTATION. Once fermentation is complete, the liquid is drawn off, filtered, heated, and placed in casks for maturing. None of the carbon dioxide is retained so there's no effervescence. Sake's alcohol ranges from 12 to 16 percent-high for beer, low for most grain-based spirits, but in the range for most wines. Sake, which is colorless (or very pale yellow) and slightly sweet, is traditionally served warm in small porcelain cups called sakazuki. Another popular Japanese rice wine is Mirin.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

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